Run no. 74 – One Man’s Meat

2017-05-17 15.08.14crop

Distance: 4.53 miles (7.3 km) Time: 46’ 05” (PB 38’ 38”)

It has been raining solidly all day; which, for me, is fantastic running weather. I love running in the rain.

I know that other people hate it. There are many who only enjoy running under a balmy blue sky, feeling the sun’s warmth on their backs. But not me; I love running in the rain.

For me any temperature above 20°C is too hot for running and I find it deeply uncomfortable.

No, it’s cold and rain for me, every time. Perhaps I’m a masochist, perhaps it’s just because I first started running in Scotland, a place known for its ‘rigorous’ climate. But for whatever reason that’s my preference.

It struck me that in our spiritual growth preference plays a large part too. What suits one person down to the ground as a way of expressing their faith, what helps them move forward in their relationship with God, won’t necessarily be helpful for someone else. Our individual personality, preferences, life-situation, age etc. all play a part in how we respond to the many different ways there are of expressing and exploring faith.

I have had the great privilege in my life to spend significant periods of time within many different spiritualities – Evangelical Protestant, Charismatic Baptist, Roman Catholic, and Anglican. I’ve also had the opportunity to encounter Orthodox, Methodist, and Pentecostal spiritualities, and I could probably list many more.

My experience has been that each of these has enriched me in some way.

The Evangelical Protestants taught me about how incredible the Bible is and how scholars through their books and sermons can really help me encounter God trough His Word. The Charismatics taught me how to encounter God in worship, His presence amongst us as we glorify Him. The Orthodox taught me how the senses can help us in worship and how glorious sounds, sights, and smells can help us move into the presence of God. The Catholics taught me how to encounter Jesus in the Mass. The Anglicans taught me how important unity within the Christian family is – however difficult it may be to achieve and maintain, and that perhaps preserving a difficult and fractious unity is the greatest act of worship we can give to God.

In fact all my experiences have encouraged me to see the differences in how Christians express their faith as riches we can share, rather than reasons to divide.

All of this means that if ever you are struggling spiritually and your current form of Christian spirituality is not doing it for you, then there are a whole range of different ways for you to try, one of which may be just what you need at this moment.

Try reading a book written by someone from a different Christian tradition, try watching a sermon on YouTube by a teacher from a different church, go and experience worship in another church, or go to a conference organised by a different denomination.

It’s like a child’s paint box. You might have your favourite colour – and that’s fine – but another colour might be just what you need at this moment. And if you tried something different, from a different spiritual tradition to your own and found that helpful, wouldn’t that make you appreciate your brothers and sisters in Christ just a little bit more, and wouldn’t that be a good thing?

 

 


Run no. 27 – Run ‘n’ Rain

Running-in-the-Rain

Distance: 4.53 miles   Time: 40’34”

Holiday period now officially over, time to get back into some kind of routine and try to wind back the dial on the bathroom scales!

At the diocesan conference last week, as we were being moved into the main hall for the final Eucharist the ushers said “Please fill up from the front”.

Looking around at myself and the assembled clergy, it was clear that we were all doing pretty well in that department!

So getting back to regular running and a bit more attention to what I eat and drink, is on the cards to undo some of the damage.

It was a drizzly rainy day today. Not cold, just wet.

I absolutely love running in the rain. I don’t know why. Perhaps because my early running was as a boy in Scotland (where it often rains!) and maybe it reminds me of that.

Maybe it’s pragmatic and I just enjoy being cooled down by the rain as I run; but for whatever reason it is, for me, a pleasant experience.

And yet some people hate it; they can’t stand running in the rain;

There were certainly no other runners in evidence this morning.

Which is a helpful reminder of the value of diversity within the church; it is good that some people enjoy some things that others dislike, it means that we can serve God in different ways.

I was at a training day for Messy Church on Saturday. Messy Church is an approach to Church designed to appeal to all ages. There are crafts that everyone can do together which help us think about the day’s theme. There are creative approaches to sharing the message of Jesus that everyone can engage with, and opportunities to respond in prayer and worship that everyone can join in with.

I think it is fantastic – but it is SO not me!

I am not a crafty kind of person. I don’t find that the way I engage most deeply with God is through artistic exploration or creation. I engage with God most naturally through text and my preferred worship style is liturgical and reflective rather than creative and explorative.

However, I am involved in helping at Messy Church and also in leading a Fresh Expression of church because I know that these other approaches are vitally necessary for many people; and they have been largely missing from the traditional expressions of Christianity.

And, as I am involved in these less natural (for me) activities, from time to time, one of these ways of exploring faith will really speak to me; and perhaps all the more powerfully for it being in a different register.

Difference is good. Embrace it.