So – there we were.
Blokes in a big tent.
Blokes in a big tent in a windswept field.
Blokes everywhere. Big blokes, little blokes, beardy blokes, shaven blokes, baldy blokes, hairy blokes, young blokes, old blokes. It was exciting. Banter, bacon rolls, burgers, beer, and the ….I’ve run out of b’s – but you’ve got the idea.
We’d come from all over the UK. One guy had come from Mexico, or so it seemed. I rather think he was visiting the UK and got invited along. Surely no-one would come all the way from Mexico, just for a bit of Christian fellowship and fun?
We’d come together to celebrate being a man. To encourage, exhort and edifiy one another. To be church for a weekend that was just male but nonetheless just as rich, just as textured, just as nuanced as our usual experience.
Men together for the Son of Man.
The meeting started in an unusual way with a rolling darts competition. Any old chancer could come up to the ockey, throw two sets of three and the highest five scores over the next 36 hours would go forward to the grand final on Sunday morning. A truly effective crowd warmer. We loved it.
There was an inspiring amount of blokey banter between the three wise men fronting the event, but it was never cynical, never nasty, just fun and occasionally a bit challenging as the deeper things about our bloke-ishness were exposed and examined. Healthy stuff this. We were dealing with man–issues and having fun.
Then the trouble started.
I’d been enjoying a long period of really getting to grips with this ‘personal relationship with Jesus’ thing. I’d learned to take lot of time meditating on small sections of scripture. Maybe just a verse or two that I’ll carry around for a week [ or more ] until I get to the time when I shut myself away, put on some quiet music and really, really think hard and pray deeply about what I’m looking at. One aspect of this process is that worship becomes deep, intimate and sometimes rather intense. I love it. The worship thing can now happen almost anywhere, anytime. Beautiful.
It was Kendrick’s fault.
As usual, Graham led us in praise. He does it beautifully, simply, powerfully. But above all he does it with a humble grace that leads you to worship. So I worshipped. All I could do was stand there with my hands by my sides and feel the tangible presence of the Spirit of God. Right there. Right then.
Worship often makes me see things differently. I’ve become acutely aware that God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, my spirituality is something that I can only describe as ‘other’. It’s otherworldly. It’s other being-ness. I just know when the otherness is opening up ‘this’ world becomes thinner. It’s as though there’s a veil over the spirituality until I choose to focus on the spiritual things then the veil flips and I’m in the ‘other’ and I’ve left ‘this’ world partly behind. See Colossians 3 : 1-3. See if it makes different sense now.
I love being ‘other’. I love leaving ‘this’ behind because ‘other’ makes more sense to me than all the pressures and pursuits of ‘this’.
I’ve understood for years that sin isn’t a range of actions & attitudes that are unacceptable to Father God, rather it’s the persistent choice to live and make life choices independently of Father God. It’s choosing ‘this’ world rather than pursuing the ‘other’ world.
So that’s my trouble that I’m in. Thanks to CVM and Graham Kendrick I now know that otherness isn’t confined to my study. Otherness is with me wherever I am. Otherness can be attained in what appears to be the least likely of circumstances and is no less potent for it.
In the midst of all that fun and masculinity and banter, the teaching of John 10:10 shows us that life remains fully open, fully accessible to us all.
His name is Jesus, the portal, the door to the ‘other’ way of being fully man and fully alive – forever.