Our friend in Turkey is off fishing today. Football and fishing (if you live along the Turkish coast) is the national passion. And our friend lives on the coast. And he loves football. And he used to play football until that “injury”. So he can fish all day if he wants. But he is driving 145 miles (232 kilometres) to fish.
We spent three weeks in the USA some years ago. Up and down the east coast. We flew a couple of legs. We drove more than we flew. Hours we drove. Miles and miles. It is the strongest memory I have of USA – how simply massive the country is – like blow my brains out massive! So driving for hours is the norm – and that also blows my brains out! All that time spent simply getting from A to B (or C and D)! Cars are boring! Sitting still that long is boring. Life is too short!
Turkey is also massive. Driving for hours is also accepted as the norm. Here in the UK it is 847 miles (1363 kilometres) from the northern tip of Scotland to the southern tip of England. So driving 145 miles is a big chunk of that – there has to be good reason. And – with reference to our Turkish friend – if I can fish right here, why travel all that way just to fish “there”? The fish may be bigger or different – but they are still just “fish”
But then my passion is not fishing.
One of the “facts” of church in the UK is how little distance people will travel. That may be true in other countries. But in my time as trainee-preacher it was an absolute for the clergy here. Which is why dwindling congregations defy commonsense. Why not draw together – consolidate, keep a dynamic, nurture the passion and spiritual energy of others, come together and have a relationship with God? But no …
“Church people” WILL up-sticks if someone upsets them. But WILL stay put for a lifetime if no one does. Because why travel to another church when there is one right here on my doorstep? I would need a good reason for that kind of investment! And one church is much the same as any other. And, mostly, this one provides what I want: I know the people – I know where we all stand (or sit – LOL!!). I know them – and they know me – I am someone here and if I went elsewhere I wouldn’t be ”someone” – I would be no one. What’s do I get from doing that? But then my passion is not church.
I wouldn’t be” someone”
In my time as a trainee-preacher there was a lot of networking. There was a lot of being “someone” in whichever puddle or stream one was swimming right then. There was a yearning to be in a bigger pond, a bigger network – to be close to the top, to the decision makers, to the policy formulators. It was about who you knew. Because if you knew the right people you were in – you are known – you ARE someone! But if not – you are out (which doesn’t serve God or me – obviously(!!) ).
Now it may be that I am missing the point entirely. It may be that this is the best way to know God. The best way to allow others to find God. The best way to be a disciple. The best way to follow. The best way to become every closer to our Lord …
But as I read today’s verses – Luke 2:22-35 … as I ponder the stable of a few days ago … as I yearn to become our Lord little by little …
I am struck (again) by how no one knew that Jesus was special. No one even noticed Jesus until he was “someone”. Because the stories of his birth and childhood are patchy (or absent). And the written accounts are all about “fulfilling prophecy”. And that is hindsight. And that is – at it heart: “So now that I have proved it to you, you should believe! Come on everyone – do I hear an “I believe” …. ?”
My friend believes his car will start today. After that … ?
Passion. Relationship and passion. Living and relationship and passion. His family believes in his passion. His passion is their fun as well. His passion is their living as well. Fishing is fun for him and food for them. They all win together (and not one of them ever feels the need to chant “I believe”).