Sometimes, my cat does “silly” things. Often, just when I am about to settle down for the night, she starts running around, dashing up her scratching pole, turning halfway, then down, across the room, into the corridor, up onto the bed, and off again, only to repeat the whole performance. At other times, I hear a thumping noise from upstairs and surmise she is performing for no audience.
Why? According to a recent Scientific American, cats do such things when they are bored or stressed. It’s a way of burning off energy. To me, that sounds a lot like a scientific way of saying: Cats need to have some fun in their lives. And they get it in a most exuberant way.
Recently, as Cupcake leapt onto the bed to attack my toes (which, I confess, I had been wiggling enticingly under the sheets) I recalled an essay I had read the week before. In it, the author suggested that our tendency as a church is to spend more and more time on institutional matters: procedures, rules, regulations, and trying to meet expectations of what a church should be and how it should behave – expectations that are often based on a now-distant past or in reaction to an increasingly secular culture. He went on to suggest that this results in the neglect of the real reason that each of us is in church – the Good News of God, which has come into our lives. We all know that congregations have been declining in size and ageing in recent decades, and that Christianity no longer has the same central status in our culture. The author went on to suggest that these trends have a positive side: They create an opportunity for us to (re-)discover what is “fun about being church.”
So I wondered, as Cupcake bounced around and sunk a claw through the sheet covering my big toe, “What makes church fun?” and “Should we even apply that word to church?” The author of the essay had linked “fun” to the Good News of God. Too often that Good News is expressed in stodgy, clichéd terms, as the avoidance of punishment for wrongdoing (“Jesus dying in place of me.”) However, the Good News can take different forms for different people: For some, it may be a welcome in a time of loneliness. For others, it may be belonging despite difference, or the knowledge of acceptance despite failings, or the confidence that all will be well, despite current difficulties, and more. The Good News is not one, but a multitude of expressions of ultimate love.
We have just celebrated Easter, the fundamental expression of the Good News. I invite you to set aside all those standard phrases about what Easter means, and express it in your own terms. What is the Good News for you? I have a hunch that the answer to this question will show you what makes “being part of a church” enjoyable and satisfying for you. In other words, in less restrained language, what makes church “fun.”
But, don’t stop there. Ask yourself, how is your way of the Good News included in the life of the community who worships at Scots Church? How can this community express it more? I’d love to hear your answers. Peter Trudinger
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