An extraordinary thing happened on Saturday. There was a reason for a mass audience to be listening to a church leader speaking and the leader said some interesting things in an interesting way.
None of this is normal. The average person on the street has no interest in hearing what church leaders have to say, largely because they have no expectation that there will be anything worth hearing.
It was hard not to notice, as Bishop Curry launched into his message about how love can change the world, that one of the main reactions amongst the Royals was a lot of smirking. It’s not for me to try and guess what they were thinking. What we can be sure of is that as part of the family firm whose boss is the head of the church they will have had to sit through a lot of very boring sermons. They won’t have been used to this. They are likely to have been a bit shocked and embarrassed by it all. It was all very unbritish. They are probably used to a lot of monotone ‘thought for the day’ type messages and here was someone getting excited and talking like it all really matters.
Here are 2 quick thoughts:
- Believe it or not the church and messages from its leaders are supposed to be of relevance and interest to our daily lives. People who don’t follow God are normally very polite to those of us who do but I imagine they’re often a bit baffled why we don’t choose a more interesting hobby. Most people’s experiences of church can be summed up by the word boring, which is appalling. It’s appalling because the founder of our faith was the most radical, controversial, mesmerising figure that has ever lived. Making Jesus boring is quite an achievement. I wouldn’t for a second want churches or their leaders to become false or follow fads to try and entertain. We have all we need. A crazy story of hope and sacrifice. If we get back to exploring what that means for now we’ll have all the drama we need
- The Christian message is supposed to be challenging. I know some people will have found Saturdays message challenging. Good. When God speaks it challenges our sense of comfort and control. It makes us realise we need to get off the throne and let him take his place. It makes our ego uncomfortable, which is what it should be because we weren’t made to be in charge and when we try to be we need a tap on the shoulder to tell us who’s boss.
I hope the message opened up the possibility of another world to people. One where a passionate church tells people of a passionate God who has so, so much more for us than we realise.
As the Bishop says we need to imagine how the world could be.
It doesn’t have to stay like this.