Hello everyone! This morning the service led by one of our supernumerary ministers helped us focus on our frailty and imperfections; he reminded us that we are members of several different family groups such as our own family, the church family and the school or work families! He used a potato as part of his children’s address, when he described what could be made out of potatoes or ‘taties’ as he had called as a boy growing up in Lancashire, such as crisps or chips. He then showed us pictures of faces illustrating characteristics such as ‘commentator, agitator, imitator, dictator etc. He told us that every family contained people who showed those behaviour types; we can all recognise others and ourselves in those types. He concentrated more than I liked on our failings as I have only in the last 9 years come to realise that I am accepted and loved by God not only despite my failings but because of who I am. I felt rather oppressed by the picture he painted to me of the judgmental God this morning especially as I have just been reading a fictional story which has shown me the loving and compassionate nature of God.
It is a book I would more than recommend to anyone who has not read it. It is called ‘The Shack’ by Wm Paul Young. The synopsis and comments on the back of the book are as follows:
‘Mackenzie Allen Philip’s youngest daughter, Missy, has been abducted during a family vacation and evidence that she may have been brutally murdered is found in an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon Wilderness. Four years later, in the midst of his Great Sadness, Mack receives a suspicious note, apparently from God, inviting him back to that shack for a weekend.
Against his better judgment he arrives at the shack on a wintry afternoon and walks back into his darkest nightmare. What he finds there will change Mack’s world forever.
In a world where religion seems to grow increasingly irrelevant THE SHACK wrestles with the timeless question, “Where is God in a world so filled with unspeakable pain?” The answers Mack gets will astound you and perhaps transform you as much as it did him. You’ll want everyone you know to read this book!’
In his encounter with God he learns that we are created for example not to fulfil expectations and be loaded with responsibilities, but to respond to God and expectancy of all that our loving father has for us. We cannot alone be the sort of people we are created to be, but as we live close to God, as Jesus has shown us in his life here on earth, God will gradually help us become the people he has created us to be. Jesus was forgiving, loving and accepting of those people he met, who recognised how far they fell short of perfection; he wanted them to realise that alone without God to help them they could not become the people God had created them to be. The message of ‘The Shack’ is that once we are aware that God is always with us, even if we do not feel or know it, then we can allow him to share all our life’s experiences, joys and pains, and grow in his grace. This is the day that the Lord has made and I rejoice and am glad in it.