I have had a few days’ break this week, hence the absence of bloggages. As a family we went to spend some time with Sally’s family in North Bucks (I am not allowed to say that it’s Milton Keynes).
On the way back home, travelling down the M1 motorway, the traffic warning system told us that the M25 was closed in the section that we were intending to use. I made use of our satellite navigation system (complete with Homer Simpson voice) and diverted across country. Homer (that’s what I call my satnav for obvious reasons) gave us a route that cut across to the M11 motorway. We were pootling along quite happily when the traffic started to slow down and eventually came to a stop. This was only a few miles from the junction we were going to come off at.
There was a massive amount of activity just a few hundred metres further up the road from us. We could see flashing lights and a number of police cars, ambulances and traffic control cars sped past in the direction of the accident (it seemed like a fair assumption that that is what had happened). The air ambulance came and went, and then it came and went again. It seems like there must have been quite a catastrophic event with serious injuries and perhaps even people having died.
Within the queue a certain amount of camaraderie emerged. People got out of their cars and started talking with one another and those who had ventured towards the front of the queue came back with news about what was happening. We could see people from other cars having snacks, making phone calls and so on (you have to ask my children what “so on” refers to).
I have to admit that I was getting a bit frustrated. We were so close to the front of the queue and not far from the exit that we needed and were having to wait. So near yet so far! In the end we waited over an hour and a half before eventually the traffic started moving again.
As we drove past the site of the incident there was nothing to see. All of the debris and damaged cars had been taken away and it was as if nothing had happened. Driving on I reflected on how I had felt in the middle of the queue. I was ashamed to realise that I was more concerned about the delays that I was experiencing them the people who were suffering ahead of me in the accident. It’s very easy to get self-centred isn’t it? Even when we follow the most selfless of people who has ever lived, Jesus of Nazareth, there are times when we revert to type, forget what he would have been doing (praying?) and worry about ourselves.
And if we can do this as individuals, we can also do this as churches and even as denominations. We can become so preoccupied with our own priorities (no matter how worthy the and important they may be) that we forget the needs around us. I can’t help wondering how Jesus feels when he looks at us debating, discussing, deliberating and (if trying to put a holy spin on it) discerning before we finally come up with a decision about the colour of the new tea set (or whatever the equivalent of that would be for a denomination).
I can’t help worrying that Synod debates about women bishops, consultations about the future of the Baptist Union, discussions about the colour of carpets, and even such important issues as the length of sermons are completely irrelevant to most of the people who live near and walk past our church. While they may be significant and important, they are surely not the most important thing of all. Those who are hungry and homeless are not blessed by such discussions. Those who need to hear about Jesus are not hearing about him through these things. Are we selfishly stuck?
Church is God’s Plan A. It is often said that he does not have a Plan B. Does he sometimes wish he did?
Be blessed, be a blessing.