'If you think you are too small to be effective, you've never been to bed with a mosquito'
This is a quotation used (at least) twice during the recent Baptist Assembly and probably the thing that stuck most firmly in my mind. Perhaps because my church is small, perhaps because I went alone (big aah!) it is easy to feel insignificant and powerless at precisely the same time as valuing being part of something bigger, more diverse and more dynamic than the everyday experience of church life.
What follows is not deeply theological, or even the product of deep reflection, but it is a few bytes from this particular mosquito!
The theme of Centring the Margins was a powerful and challenging one, and many times we were asked to think about our own 'do not cross' boundary lines and comparing our ways with those of Jesus. Sad irony then, that the timing of assembly had been carefully chosen because the character of Brighton on Bank Holiday Monday (when it actually poured with rain and there was not a soul to be seen) might offend the sensibilities of nice Christian folk and that the venue was so far south it effectively excluded any 'people in the pew' with neither the opportunity or finances to travel from the North or Midlands in time for a mid-Friday start. The message was good; we have far to go in living out the words...
As is the way of these things, the seminars varied in style and quality but did seem to be well attended. Although I left most feeling rather disappointed by the input I'd received, being present among around 200 others from small churches and hearing just snatches of what they are doing was affirming. Two hundred mosquitoes - now there IS a scary thought!
The main meetings were pretty much as as expected but prompted two more flippant, even amusing trains of thought.
A friend who works in an adjacent Association bemoaned his failure to circulate 'Baptist Bingo' cards with names (or first lines) of the hymns and songs we were bound to sing. From 'Be Thou my Vision' and 'When I Survey the Wondrous Cross' to 'Light of the World' and 'King of Kings, Majesty', by Sunday night he reckoned he had a full house!
Then there emerged among a group of us final year NAMs: 'what do you wear when you go for your handshake'? Big stuff this, never mind theology of ministry!! We found some enlightenment as we watched the "Mish Kids" climb on stage arrayed as princesses, fairies, spidermen and Willie Wonker. The question now is, do I opt for 'Princess' or 'Cat Woman'?!
It was good to meet up with friends, to catch up on news, to be part of the bigger Baptist family. Although now I seem to be faced with a double dose of work to catch up on, although parts of it were disappointing, frustrating or downright annoying, it was well worth going and as a lesser mosquito in the mosquito that is the BUGB, it is good to be reminded that our bite matters! Just need to avoid the Deet of lethargy and apathy...