Being made to think

Watchtower in the Eden Valley

Watchtower in the Eden Valley

I was doing my sermon. Tring, tring, triiiiiiiiiiing went the door bell. Woof-woof, woof-woof went Og the king of Basan. Og the dog really, but one dreams. I heave my creaking and overweight body out of its groove on the sofa where I do most of my writing with the computer resting on the sofa arm and Og the dog lying beside me. I stomp to the door. I’m greeted by two neatly dressed gentlemen and a young child. They are smiling. I restrain Og the dog who, despite being a good barker, is one of the more timid of things creeping innumerable, both small and great beasts.

‘Good morning, Sir.’

I reciprocate by offering them my heartiest felicitations on this the first day of flaming (hollow laughter) June.

‘Could we interest you in this?’

They proffer a leaflet. I readily accept it with thanks. I quickly look at the back page and see that it’s from Watchtower Publications. Jehovah’s Witnesses are quite numerous in Portlaoise. Seeing the face of one of the men, noting the Watchtower connexion, and putting two and two together makes something in my brain go clunk, clunk, clunk. I’m delighted to say that I know two of his children. They attend Maryborough school. I tell him that they are good fun and little treasures. He demurs somewhat, his diagnosis of their condition being not so much treasures, but more ‘live-wires’. He says this with a somewhat wry expression on his face. The pains of parenthood. We exchange more pleasantries and I say I’d love a chat, but they hoof it, pitter patter, back to Coote Street whence presumably they came.

Not long after, I had time to read the leaflet. You can imagine the content: what does the Bible say, sort of stuff. Nothing to which I took exception.

A number of things about the encounter rather shamed me. Their commitment, their neatness, their smiles, their evident goodness and lack of guile. I wondered how much time they spent having to deal with property and legal issues, with internecine feuds, with leaking roofs, with graveyards and complaints, with church furnishings. I made some personal resolutions. And then I began to fantasize about would happen if we followed the example of my callers and visited every home in our parishes with a leaflet about what we do, and what we offer. I began to wonder what exactly is it that we do offer to those who are not already in the club?

Maybe this is something to think about over the summer. The leaflet is the easy bit.

About Rambling Rector

Church of England Parish Priest
This entry was posted in Ecclesiology, Pastoralia. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Being made to think

  1. You reckon fear drive’s peoples’ church attendance? It would be interesting to explore this. Why do people come? Habit? To reserve a good seat in the hereafter? Peace (some of our services provide that)? To give something to ponder over the next week? A good sing? To allow oneself to forget day to day concerns? To be part of something bigger? To be reminded that there is something bigger? To worship … what? All of these and more no doubt. I guess we all do our best. Not everyone is as thoughtful as you, I suspect, Mary.

  2. Mary Fennelly says:

    Yes the leaflet is the easy bit, but for what purpose would ‘devout’ Christians be calling to houses? To spread the word of God in the hope of recruiting or reviving followers or for money?
    I’m not sure religion or faith can be ‘sold’ door to door I don’t view it as being a consumer item. Religion in its form can be misleading, faith, I believe is found within oneself – a personal experience not in a leaflet, it certainly isn’t a commodity.

    Cheers Stan

    • You are absolutely right about faith being within oneself. One does not even begin to glimpse the Divine until one begins the journey within. Pastoring the flock is about, in part, the journey within, but the only critical remarks about sermons I have preached have come from those who objected to that being pointed out to them. I want more than anything else to spread that word, yet I, like all PPs, am also bound to see that an organisation and buildings are maintained and administered in accordance with the law of the land. It would be good to examine to what extent fear has, and does, drive people’s church attendance. I could go on, but this will grow into another blog!

      • Mary Fennelly says:

        You reckon fear drive’s peoples’ church attendance? Probably true but we should not fear God, he is ever forgiving. I sometimes find myself only turning to Him for help when I’m bothered or worried about something instead of attending religiously with the rest of the flock to what sometimes I feel is a circus. Attending church and listening to sermons, in particular, should provide us with spiritual nourishment. All men and women of the cloth can preach to us, telling us what we want to hear and send us on our way. Is that what practicing Christianity is about? I don’t think so. We all need to be challenged from time to time, its what keeps us alert and interested. Who is content with becoming complacent? If church attendance is driven by fear or habit then I feel we need to ask ourselves why.

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