Sunday, October 16, 2005

Words and their recipients

The regenerating power of writing
It's a month since I started making an effort to put down my thoughts about work and life in this blog. It's quite an effort to do it every day, and I haven't succeeded, then when the time comes, I churn out, or discharge a huge long narrative, not at finely honed as it might be if I constructed it piece by piece. That apart, it's reminded me of just how much I enjoy having the freedom to work with words, and that it's part of how I earn my living. This has stimulated me to revisit the poetry I've been writing occasionally over the past 42 years, and now I've put some of these into a separate blog (see sidebar). Even crafting a few hundred words each month for The Bell, our Parish Magazine (web published in pdf format on our Parish website), is a source of great pleasure. I've put some sermons on the Parish site as well, at the request of (very) few friends, although editing for wide consumption what was written in the heart of the moment for a particular audience can be demanding. Sometimes I'm too tired, so these may get published, typos and all. I've started to make the effort to publish this last couple of years - yes, because the opportunity is there, but also because iIt's part of my taskas a priest and preacher to get people to look at a picture which is bigger than their own lives and concerns, or those of our church congregation, and to think about the meaning and purpose of existence.

On the receiving end
Perhaps no more than fifty people ever read what I write. If ten were to think about what I said and respond in some way, maybe it would make a small difference somewhere. I rarely get any comment about my articles, any more than I do about the hundred or so sermons I preach every year, but then I don't expect to. The people I serve are thoughtful. Occasionally what I've said does get returned to me in a comment or insight, but for the most part, people keep their thoughts to themselves - there is no culture of discussion and dialogue in their religious tradition, only of listening and reflection. At one time I ran a European discussion forum about Mission by and with expatriate communities. On a fraction of the subscribers to the forum took part. However in face to face meetings, several reassured me that they read all the posts with interest, but without feeling the need to join in. Everybody's different.

Congregations and temperament

There are church communities whose timetables are full of bible studies and discussions. This in itself is no guarantee that they will engage thought to produce appropriate response, and certainly doesn't mean they are superior churches to those where people habitually listen and conduct their own interior dialogue on matters of faith close to their hearts. I've come to the conclusion that congregations tend to be typically either extravert or introvert. This may change over seasons and years, depending on the influence of leadership and key members, but the fruitfulness of either type's engagement with life is not dependent on temperament, but whether people who hear the Word strive to put it into action as best they can.

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