I came across this in the daily paper: “Rail instructions for a Yorkshire Charter day trip to Leeds: Each passenger travels forward on one leg and backwards on the other”! Seems they must be standing still, or rocking on the spot. That’s what I hope I never do. It’s usually grandad who rocks in his chair, sitting quietly on the veranda in the evening of his life and of the day. Or, people under great stress issue nonverbal clues as to what is going on in their lives. Such repetitive behaviour like a metronome is calming as a person zones out, oblivious to the world and its anxiety. Apparently it stimulates the vestibular senses and is soothing.
Thankfully, for me, life still stretches ahead with prospect, and the sunset hasn’t arrived. Unfortunately, there are many people and churches who have already reached this stage and have decided that twilight is imminent. Once HICC starts rocking on the spot, it’s time for me to move on to another challenge. Someone said to me recently, “We have noticed tension in your preaching.” There is no tension or stress in the aged, they have reached contentment. This must mean I’ve still got life!
But, let’s get serious. I analysed that statement — did I have tension? — Possibly, but could it not be passion? What’s the difference? — Tension is stress, and stress is necessary for life. Passion is a life aflame with feeling, and that is also necessary — combine the two — and you’ve got me. The tension of delivering God’s words in an understandable manner and a passion for God that dims not. I once asked a new person to the church, why they came, what had attracted them to the service? Their reply was interesting, it was “because of the passion in the preaching.”
We all have dreams, expectations and desires. Many people never fulfil them. We all look forward to inhabit the perfect life designed by God and don’t want to miss anything. Time is getting short, days are racing ahead, there’s a hint, just a hint of dusk, and the Promised Land has many hills, rivers, coastlands and mountains to traverse. Dusk is undefinable for there is no measure for when darkness has come. Half-light is confusing. In the apprehension of that discernment is a problem of perception and definition.
Sometimes I think that people and churches lose their positive outlook and the thankful spirit evaporates. In our own case we started at St. Cuthbert’s, a borrowed Anglican building, gained a lovely home at 205 Station Road — a four storey Victorian house built 1908, and then onwards to the Safari Cinema and eventually the new build at the 205 site. What a blessing that was and is. We may have forgotten the progress God has given us, and long for the leeks and the onions of Egypt’s thraldom. Whilst I’m reaching for the glory there are some who grumble at the present blessing. They don’t want bigness, preferring smallness, content to rock on the veranda, watching the sun set on the whitened fields of harvest — it causes tension and arouses passion.
Peter, James and John were rocking backwards and forwards on Transfiguration Mount as they saw the glory in Christ, and wanted to build tabernacles — but glory must be also shrouded in humanity and be underwritten by mission – broken lives need divine intervention and improvement. There are too many rocking starts in the modern church, back and forwards, all it achieves is a groove and the only difference between a groove and a grave is the depth! We must always be onward, for God said to Joshua “There is very much land yet to possess,” and so there is. We have no time to rock back and forth and induce soothing feelings of contentment, the fields are white unto harvest. There will come a time when physically we can do little more than rock back and forth, but now we have strength and should have purpose – the night commeth; watchman what of the night?