Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Reflections from The Hill – Being Noticeable


One of my endearing charms, so I’m told, is to state the bleeding obvious. Whether I’m in a high-powered meeting, or just mucking around home, my capacity for the obvious and the patently clear is legendary.


I’d like to think that I’m in some sort of company when I make my pronouncements but it’s only when I read this week’s Good Word from The Bloke that I know I’m right up there with the best.


What’s more, the fact that the bon-mot in question is as true now as it was when it was uttered in those Galilean hills is nothing short of spectacular because it tells me we haven’t moved very far in the past two millennia. It’s not what you’d call progress.


The Bloke is giving us his take on the first century version of the latest job figures and says some stuff about plentiful harvests and few workers. He could be talking about cane harvesting, such is the timelessness of it.


Of course, there were no multinational mining companies back then paying big money to lure away workers but, hey, take the point: there’s nearly always a surfeit of crops and a deficit of workers, at least in the West, though sub-Saharan Africans might have a different view.


The harvest is plentiful but the labourers are few, he says, so he sent them out two by two. Organisationally, it’s a stroke of genius but in terms of effectiveness, well, I just wonder.


Sure, I know there was no stopping The Bloke’s Movement once it began. Sure, I know that gathering power around a single entity works but decentralising, putting control in the hands of many, is surely the way to go.


Why, then, do we persist in climbing in order to top the pyramid, asks he quietly lest he get trapped in the obvious again? What’s the matter with a level playing field?


The Bloke’s rejection in his home town, how they drove him out of the church and threatened to chuck him over the cliff, serves a lot in helping me to understand why the unilateral view is to be avoided. Even our PM made some noises recently that he says was a hard lesson for him to learn.


Again, The Bloke’s method of addressing the jobless figures is to send The Team out, two by two, all over the place. It’s mind-blowingly simple when you think about it but then he adds a warning about lambs and wolves.


As I’ve said at other times and in other places, being at the head of the line, at the top of the tree, is a natural tendency; it’s what motivates speech nights and award ceremonies.


The Bloke, for all his being obvious however, tells us something else: tops of pyramids ain’t what they used to be. If we don’t get bitten today, then we will tomorrow.


We are so easily lured into believing the dream that the church is like an oasis of kindness and that it’s only outside the church that going is tough. Honestly, no one believing that has ever been to a parish council meeting.


But when Jesus commissioned The Seventy, he made it abundantly clear that working in a team is The Only Way To Go. Rejection going to be par for the course and it’s better to deal with that among mates than by yourself.


Rejection is more prevalent and more intimate than most of us want to believe.


If you’re anything like me, you’ll sally forth, commissioned, blessed and geared up for action with the hope that this is going to be a joyful ride. The thing to remember is that there are harvests of tears waiting, too.


Dietrich Bonhoeffer commissioned his young students to go into the Third Reich to proclaim the gospel while facing the real possibility of death. It was no easy road to draw that sharp distinction between cheap grace and costly grace.


Cheap grace, he says, expects endless pleasantness and is unwilling to confront the powers and principalities.


True grace loves and doesn’t deride the beloved. True grace knows that the cross is part of life in Christ. It’s really that obvious.




This Week’s Humour (from Sandy Berardi who heard it from … doesn’t matter)


Two grey-haired Irish guys were working for the Council Works Department.

One would dig a hole and the other would follow behind him and fill the hole in. They worked up one side of the street, then down the other, then moved on to the next street, working furiously all day without rest, one man digging a hole, the other filling it in again.

An onlooker was amazed at their hard work, but couldn't understand what they were doing.

"I'm impressed by the effort you two are putting in to your work, but I don't get it - why do you dig a hole, only to have your partner follow behind and fill it up again?"

The hole-digger wiped his brow and sighed, "Well, oi suppose it probably looks odd because we're normally a t’ree-person team. Today, de lad who plants the trees called in sick.'"