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Monday, March 16, 2009

Staugustines

The People's Republic of Blah went to Staugustines today for the first time since... well since we got married, (we prodicalised to Diss almost straight after for, no assosiated reason).

Firstly, those who know the Blah Republic well, will know that the male populous is rather picky when it comes to matter regarding church following some eye opening experiences with Proclaimers and a potentially earth shattering morsel of wisdom that propmtly turned to a bitter pill of resentment and anger. Therfore all the men in the country find all churches tediuos, irrelevent and irreverent.

Except, that is, for Staugustines. Of all the churches in Norwich to which the nation of Blah have been on factfinding missions, Staugustines has always struck a chord in the average male Blahite that no other has come close to. And that's because Staugustines approaches faith tangentally to other chuches.

Let me explain... *stretches palms outward with interlocking fingers*

My theory is that the majority of chuches approach the idea of faith (as a noun and a verb) from the idea that God is a man to reach out to and build bridges to, and to be fair, Biblicly, I can see why:

A woman who had been bleeding for twelve years came behind Jesus and touched the edge of his coat. She was thinking, "If I can just touch his clothes, I will be healed." (NIV)

Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe." (NIV)

Then the wee fella cut a hole in a chap's roof for his mate's healing (New Ben Translation)

On that day, a bloke who lived in a desert country where most (if not all) of the Bible is set petitioned God that if he found a handful of people who weren't spiritually rubbish then God might tone down His strong smiting ethic.(NBT)

``This is the word of the Lord, thanks be to God``.

So there's definately a Biblical theme of people making the first move to get to God or get God's favour, and for everyone in the Bible it pays off almost straight away - just like real life!!!

But the theme that has permiated institutionalised Christianity since inception of the catholic (small c) church is that access to God is something to be earned - whether it's in the traditional: in the confessional, in alms & tythes, lenten sacrifice. Or whether it's in the post-modern take on lassooing God's attentions like jumping, flag waving and raising one's hands and face to the ceiling.

Personally I see God as much omnipresent inside of my heart and life as He is omnipresent in the physical universe and seeking Him is a matter of regressing the churchy adages and poetic idioms to find Him in the place that He (by rights) *should* reside. That is to say, I beleive God exists more in my feral created being than in embroidered banners and electric guitars.

Anyway.

It's this theme that Staugustines picks up on. The service begins with a period of silence (or `silence with children` as Rev. Vicar once happily put it) which begins the tone of introspective exploration that makes up the meeting. A mutual gathering of friends all seeking the same goal through different paths, each acknowledging that their own path may be meandering, unmapped and unprecedented, but ultimately, never lonely becuause running parallel to their own are the other friends walking their own journies.

This is what Staugustines is all about: the re-assuring sideways glances between such explores and mutual spiritual discovery that's intrinsic of God's people who realise that true learning and true development comes from one another and not explicitly from the pastor (or writers/hymns/guest speakers endorsed by the pastor). Where we're made stronger by our shared individualities and idiosynchronous relationships with God rather than, perhaps, our corporate charactor emulation (as would be the case in more traditionally evangelical churches).

So this is the enduring appeal of Staugustines for the men of the Republic of Blah. Men (such as myself for example) who refuse to allow orthodoxy and conformity displace the opportunity to seek God on the terms He put inside me. To choose to allow God to reveal Himself in the silence rather than conjour Him in endless choruses and desperate Pentecostalism. It's a passion to restore God to nature, to give meditation a chance and perhaps consider we can learn as much from the Tao Te Ching as we can from the Purpose Driven Church. In a maxim: Worshipping outside the box.

Ultimately, spirituality is a practise and I choose to offer my God sweet smelling insence when other's choose to give Him the lyre and harp, and I am more grateful for the ability to dissent from the evangelical orthodox than I am hung up on the gulf between the two beliefs.

(So go in peace, to love and serve the Lord).

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7 Comments:

  • At 9:03 PM, Blogger Laura said…

    "So there's definately a Biblical theme of people making the first move to get to God or get God's favour"

    The opposite is true!

     
  • At 9:53 PM, Blogger Ben F. Foster Esq. (c) said…

    That's my point!

     
  • At 11:53 PM, Anonymous Mark Tiddy said…

    I think it's more getting God's favour as you put it rather than people making the first move because surely God has already made the first move with...whatshisname...Jesus!

    There's the painting of Jesus at the door knocking that only has the handle on our side...Jesus made the move to us we just have to let Him in.

    I like your idea of God being in us...is that not the idea of the Holy Spirit anyway?

    I think it's important we experience different ways of worshipping and discovering God because God made a varied world not just a 'all-the-hype-money-can-buy' one and so we should mix them!

    Good post Ben! :-)

     
  • At 5:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Didnt read the story - but liked the photo. Glad to see everyone got something out of the welsh wedding :-)

     
  • At 10:53 PM, Blogger Timothy V Reeves said…

    Republic of Blah? I thought you were under a monarchy: So when the queen said "The opposite is true!" I'm glad to see you took notice.

     
  • At 9:48 PM, Blogger Laura said…

    What is your problem Timoth V Reeves?! You keep insulting me! ;)

     
  • At 11:21 PM, Blogger Ben F. Foster Esq. (c) said…

    Stop insulting my wife!

     

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