What do these two things have in common? My sense is that most folk under 21 probably don’t have direct experience of what either of them are. I was 28 before I lived in a house with central heating. Even today people in Scotland are still living in homes with poor heating, and paying through the nose for heating costs – but trying to describe a three bar electric fire is still difficult. Explaining what an order of service is also an interesting exercise to people from outside the church; is it an invoice, a bit of paper asking for something to be supplied, or is it something else.
I’m getting older. I know this. The world of today is a different one from the world when I was at University. Edinburgh at Festival Time is a different place from Edinburgh in the dark days and nights of January. But it’s when all these people come together that the city takes on a different dimension, and becomes something more complex.
David Hayward blogs @nakedpastor on Twitter, and he says, “I’ve experienced real, authentic community… the kind that is beautiful and unforgettable… the kind we want to experience all the time and enjoy consistently.” He makes the point that we can’t enjoy that mountain top experience all the time… and that the challenge for us all is to build community, with all our differences, trying to understand the view point of the other. Ken Cloke is an American who has worked as a mediator. He says there’s no such thing as them and us… there’s only we. I’d second that, as I try to explain what three bar electric fires and orders of service are about, and try to build community in different places and in different roles.
One big development for me recently has involved me changing jobs in the Church of Scotland offices. I moved from being Partnership Development Secretary in Ministries, to a seconded post as Secretary to the Mission and Discipleship Council. That’s been a challenge – and it’s also been a hugely rewarding time, working with a talented and committed staff team (where have those five months gone?) But just as three bar electric fires and orders of service are new experiences for some, I’ve relished and enjoyed new experiences in this new role – and I look forward to more of the same. Sharing stories; learning from others – especially 100 years after the end of the First World War – and building community is at the heart of what Go For It does, and I hope to continue with that as I meet new faces up and down the country, helping folk to explore what discipleship is about.
Oh… and one final thing; you can still buy three bar electric fires in good independent ironmongers (and online too…)
About the Author
Rev Angus Mathieson is Secretary to the Mission and Discipleship Council within the Church of Scotland offices. Angus also attends Carrick Knowe church in Edinburgh, who are using Go For It funding to provide affordable family activities for those with young children, including Cooking Classes, Community Gardening, Dinner and Movie Nights, plus Arts and Crafts.
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