Have you ever had a mundane conversation that left you unsettled, in a good way? I’ve just had one of those.
It was about a friend coming to stay at our house, and the planned days happened to coincide with the same days of the week we regularly have three or four others staying. I was naturally reluctant as I didn’t want the house to be too full.
I was grabbed recently by something in a piece of literature put through my front door. Unusual, I know. It was a prayer diary for the Middle East. In it I found a prayer for government officials to return to displaced peoples equality, dignity and responsibility. Lack of these things, or violent suppression thereof, in many countries is the very reason many refugees are fleeing in their droves. And it really got me thinking.
Since the 70s we’ve been called Jesus Fellowship. On April 7th 1987 we took on Jesus Army as our second, parallel identity, a public brand under which we’d reach out to the UK for Jesus. This post is all about names.
Why do names matter? Names shape culture and values, they help form first impressions. Choosing a good name for a church is no quick fix to changing a culture, but what organisations choose to call themselves carries weight both in gathering members around a vision and communicating to outsiders.
It’s fair to say that we live in a cynical age. Everything is questioned, picked apart and doubted. But it’s no wonder. This past week or so has seen the nation and the government divided, leading to a bubbling over of hate and prejudice, with accusations flying from both sides.
There’s a book that was written back in the 50s by a guy called Richard Niebuhr, called “Christ and Culture”. It mentions the importance of every church understanding what the outside culture’s attitude is towards the church. He looks at different ‘seasons’ that churches go through.
“There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered in sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table…” (Luke 16:19-21)
Every generation has its ‘Lazarus’: the poor, mistreated, abused, and neglected. Part of this generation’s Lazarus is the third world migrants who wash up on the shores of Europe. Their governments oppress them, abuse them, imprison them, torture them; so those that can escape head for the rich man’s gate known as Europe.
I’ve often heard people say “there is beauty in our brokenness”. Recently I saw a post on Pinterest about “Kintsukori” –
“the Japanese art of repairing pottery with gold or silver lacquer and understanding that the piece is more beautiful for having been broken”.
It’s a lovely expression, but do we really believe it?