Pity Megan and Harry. I do hope it works out for them. Whatever happens they can rest assured that everybody has an opinion, and that most people in the UK, from our friends on the news channels to the local pub up the road, will have vented it. A friend of mine once went to the loo before he preached and forgot his microphone was on – he came back to cheering from the congregation! But just imagine doing that in front of the nation with the boos and cheers of the Football Crowd of life ringing in your ears.
We pride ourselves on being non-judgemental as a culture, but open up the tabloids and shame is writ large. Somehow we can never escape the hissing of the pantomime, and for most of us humble folk we live safe in the knowledge that our lives are so nondescript that it will never happen to us.
The closest I ever got to the pillory of life was a few years back when the Liphook Carnival was on. Fortunately we decided not to go, but we were surprised to hear a lot of loud Dongs emanating from the parade, like the bells of St Pauls had suddenly appeared in Liphook. Apparently the Deer’s Hut in their wisdom at the height of the bell ringing debacle had decided to dramatize it as part of the carnival parade – with a mad vicar at the front and a huge donging bell on the float. It was really funny. But I was so pleased not to be there!
Yes Shame is even alive and well in Liphook. Alive in our pubs, in our coffee shops, in our schools and care centres, in our supermarkets and in our homes. We probably spend a lot of energy ignoring it. Perhaps, like the cast of Eastenders we catch ourselves in conversations justifying and vindicating our own behaviour. If this is you, know that shame is probably part of your life as well. Like fear, it lurks in the background a powerful emotion with hugely negative consequences. But if that’s you know this. Crucifixion was such a shameful death that Romans didn’t even like to talk about it. When our Saviour stripped naked, completely alone and pinned to a cross was pilloried by the crowd in some profound way he was dealing with your shame. Know this and be free.
Over the christmas period I was reading the Liphook community magazine and remembering the events of the year: of great military events commemorating the World Wars, such as D-Day, Remembrance Day and Canada day; of the soldiers, sailors and airmen, (many professional) who were involved in those wars; and of the many men and women who volunteered to fight for freedom. Many who consequently died for our country.
What was their motivation to volunteer, and possibly be killed? Was it ‘Duty’? The desire to serve the country and prevent a potential Nazi invasion?
With the latest debacle over the role of Harry and Meghan, the word ‘duty’ has reappeared (like a long lost relative at Christmas!). I considered why I volunteered to help in church. Simple – I was asked. Duty? – no. But instead a sense of gratitude to the many members of the congregation who supported me and my family when we first came to Liphook. It was gratitude to God for so many answered prayers, and a wondrous sense of His goodness. Serving teas and coffees after Sunday services was so much fun; meeting the whole congregation individually, talking to them and learning their names! Serving teas at our twice monthly Tea and Company for seniors is pure joy, as I talk to our guests and spend time in lively conversation with the other volunteers.
It’s that Christian word “fellowship” that comes to mind.
In contrast, when I read the story of Martha and Mary…. when Jesus comes to lunch with 15 (?) of his disciples unexpectedly! And the grumpy attitude of Martha. And Mary who chooses to take time to listen to Jesus and catch up. Martha reluctantly asks for help from her sister. In my imagination only, Jesus and his friends all helped to prepare the meal – problem solved.
Of course Jesus sets us an example to follow in John 13 when he washes the disciples feet.
If you are asked to volunteer by a leader, then think and playfully consider the benefits not only to the church but for yourself too. Yes – there’s always a pressure… because there is so much need and our church is growing – but what better reason! There’s always training available, and it’s good mental housekeeping to commit to a time frame that you can cope with. It’s not forever!! (Lol). It’s just for a season.
May you enjoy volunteering with a sense of gratitude…. we have so many blessings to share with others.