Did You Hear the One About… 40 Days with Cartoon Church
Day 15 – Friday after 2nd Sunday of Lent
From the Scriptures:
How very good and pleasant it is
when kindred live together in unity!
It is like the precious oil on the head,
running down upon the beard,
on the beard of Aaron,
running down over the collar of his robes.
It is like the dew of Hermon,
which falls on the mountains of Zion.
For there the Lord ordained his blessing,
life for evermore.
It is not enemies who taunt me—
I could bear that;
it is not adversaries who deal insolently with me—
I could hide from them.
But it is you, my equal,
my companion, my familiar friend,
with whom I kept pleasant company;
we walked in the house of God with the throng.
Those reading these words in Anglican Churches across the world often find that Lent has an added penance; preparing for the Annual Parochial Church Meeting when Churchwardens and Church Council members for the coming year will be elected.
My previous parish taught me the wisdom of having this meeting as early as possible, not just to earn ‘brownie points’ from the archdeacon (never a bad idea!) but also to help air any upsets and niggles in parish life whilst we are in penitential mood. Then, reconciled to each other, we are better able to look forward to Easter joy. Due to the vagaries of the Church Calendar and other events that must happen in Lent in my current parish we hold our APCM on Passion Sunday. Well, if we are in for some self-inflicted pain we may as well try for a little redemption as well J
It was from watching John Cleese, hauled up in front of ‘The Beak’ in a series of management videos titled ‘Meetings Bloody Meetings’, that I learnt about the problems of ‘chairing a meeting without due thought and preparation’ and other common misdemeanours for the neophyte chair. Leading and attending meetings is one of the most common tasks for church leaders, lay and ordained alike, and is also one for which we have the least training! Somehow being professional about managing meetings is seen as ‘unholy’. In the Church of England much has been said about the perils of learning from the world of Business Management but, in my view, good management skills are a gift of the Holy Spirit and should be earnestly sought. (cf. Administration in 1 Corinthians 12.28)
Today’s cartoon, though tongue in cheek, is not too far removed from the reality of some church meetings, indeed most meetings of any voluntary association, so please resist the temptation to pigeonhole people. Every committee member is trying to do their best for God and the Gospel and they want to support each other in that task. Proof of which is that, as I type these words a few minutes before midnight, I have just received a long and caring text message from one of my own churchwardens… I am truly blessed.
…as are we all. Blessed to worship with people who give up their time for us and for love of the One Who Loves us Best. Blessed to stand alongside, and occasionally argue with sisters, who are so passionate about bringing the Good News to others that they will draw lines in the sand, issue ultimatums, and make their point persistently even if occasionally ‘ad nauseam’. Blessed that we have brothers whose vision is larger than ours, and so are willing to go the extra mile in bookkeeping, applying for Faculties, and investigating the nether regions of the Church Representation Rules. All these wonderful people give of their time, their treasure, and their talents so that, come Sunday morning all is well and many are drawn into the arms of The Beloved.
Church meetings, and PCC meetings in particular, can be hard work that does not always appear to be holy. But they are also be places of love, joy and hope where God’s will is discerned and, at the end of what may seem a long journey, together with Jacob, we come to realise;
‘Surely the Lord is in this place—and we did not know it!’
Almighty God, merciful Father,
we pray thee to direct the holy church,
that it may abide and grow in unity
and in its witness throughout the world,
and that our faith may increase.
Grant, we beseech thee,
that we may dwell in peace
and have thy blessing on our work.
A United Liturgy for East Africa
- Ensure you know the names of members of your Church
Council and spend time in prayer for them. Perhaps having a notice board in church with their names and photographs on it may help.
- Maybe now is the time to answer the call to serve on a church
Committee? Be it the PCC or the Coffee Rota volunteers are always needed.
Currently The Church Times is running an excellent series of articles of running church meetings (with extra drawings from Cartoon Church). They are also offering discounted subscription to PCC members! Why not look them up at https://www.churchtimes.co.uk
Here is an extra cartoon to aid deeper thoughts…
Though now a little dated the John Cleese videos ‘Meetings Bloody Meetings’ are still worth looking at and can be found here: https://archive.org/details/meetingsbloodymeetings#
All Cartoons are copyright © Dave Walker. Please visit http://www.cartoonchurch.com if you would like to laugh even more J
Prayers are from the collection ‘Praying with the World Church’ compiled by USPG.
Please support their work by visiting http://www.uspg.org.uk
Scripture quotations are copyright © New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
These Reflections, ‘Did You Hear the One About…’ are copyright © Andrew Dotchin 2017