Singing the Lords song in a strange land is the title of a book by Revd Tom Stuckey that I’ve just started reading. One of the difficulties of Ministry is that its very easy to get caught up in the busyness of sorting, organising, preaching, visiting etc that the studying by which our thinking is informed can be easily lost. I try (rarely succeed) to keep abreast of the latest studies, books etc that will stretch my thinking.
Notice the sub-title of the book is “The future of the Church in Britain. A Methodist perspective”
Reflecting Psalm 137 its a book that addresses many of the fears surrounding Methodism at the moment, decline, anxiety, lack of direction and much more. Like those exiled in Babylon the dilemma is how to be Christian in an increasingly secular world, where it feels that we too have been exiled in a foreign land where our language, culture, standards etc are very different from those around.
I wonder where your church stands within the current atmosphere of doom and gloom that pervades so many places of worship ? Is your Church facing up to the reality of a changing world or is it burying its head in the sand hoping that when it emerges everything will be back to ‘normal’ ?
I’ve only just started the book but already I find myself intrigued by its honesty and clarity. Starting with the observation that many of us find ourselves making sadly; that the world has changed but the Church refuses to do so in many places leaving us further and further behind. The political and economic scene is very different from the world in which many of our church folk grew, music has changed, the increase of reality television and certainly the growth of the internet and social media has impacted upon our world. Its no use ignoring these things (especially the last one) as they shape our thinking and acting. And yet the church retreats into its own little ghetto where nothing changes.
Stuckey addresses the issue of ‘Babylon ‘ with its individualistic culture, the effect of our life styles on the environment, and the importance of materialism for many folk.
Thats where Ive got up to so far and he speaks of that which many of us can recognise but as yet don’t have any answers. What I find is that many recognise that we are as Scripture says ‘living in a strange world” to that which many of us grew up in but few ask the questions of how “to sing the Lords song” or even “what is the Lords song!” and I’m hoping that he will lead us in the book towards a more hopeful conclusion.
Whatever, I commend each of us to the following in Lent…………..
- Read something that will stretch thinking in a spiritual way
- In my circuit we are having a “year of Intentional Faith Development” and so I suggest we read more of Scripture
- Consider the future of the Church, our part in it and our part in its development
- Reflect on how we, ourselves, might sing the Lords song in a strange land.
Have a blessed Lent but also an honest and challenging one