Another New Beginning?

Some of you will never have seen a blog post from me before; others may have thought I’d given up. To be truthful, I stopped posting because I was afraid. People said things about one of my more recent posts which made me regret writing it - I didn’t regret the content at all, but I regretted sharing it, because some folk didn’t seem ready, willing, or able, to accept what I was saying. I felt as though I didn’t have anything to say which wasn’t in some way connected to the post which had received such opprobrium, and that left me feeling unable to continue. I was, and am, afraid of censure, and disapproval - but most of all, of ostracism.

Why am I afraid of ostracism? Quite simply because when I was young I was bullied, and spent most of my early years living in fear and feeling as though I had no friends. The notion that my writing might bring about what felt as though it might be a similar rejection and isolation by those in my own ‘family' was more than I could bear to contemplate, so I stopped. I didn’t stop writing though - I have screeds of ‘stuff’ on my various hard-drives, on my iPad, and in the cloud. I just haven’t dared to publish it - and I probably won't.

Recently, as I said in my most recentpost, I have become involved in our church’s work with students - we have a vibrant group of students within our church community, and it is my privilege to be part of the team which ‘looks after’ them (though, to be honest, it frequently feels as though I'm the one who’s being looked after - something with which I think each of us on the team can identify!). They are, as I keep saying, a wonderful bunch, and I’ve grown to love them very much. One of them blogs occasionally, and it's one of those posts which has inspired me to restart this blog.

I do have stuff to say: stuff which isn’t about theological controversies, but is about life. I ought to be able to share those things, and my thoughts about them, without ever needing to go near that other stuff. Perhaps someone may be helped by the things I write - I certainly hope so. After all that preamble, here we go...

This has been a winter of contrasts - both in the weather and in my personal life. Leaving the weather aside (I’m not actually typing this whilst sat in a puddle, but it’s not far off), the contrast has been quite hard to cope with.

There have been times of great blessing. Little Fishes (our church’s baby and toddler group) has been going well: the team is great, and we’ve got a good bunch of folk coming along to drink coffee and chat, whilst the kids play… And there are quite a few babies at the moment, which is lovely: I adore babies (as if you didn’t already know that!) and my idea of bliss is being allowed to cuddle them (are there babies in heaven? That’s part of another discussion, which we could go into at some point).

And then there’s the students. A lovely, lively, bunch, as I’ve already said more than once. We provide them with a meal on Sunday evenings before the 7:00pm service - it’s always a fun time, with lots of chatter and good humour. We also meet together with some of them in small groups - to eat together and to study the bible or discuss interesting topics. I’m leading a ‘Deeper Thinking’ group this year - talking about theology, usually in a fairly ‘practical' way. And a couple of weeks ago, some of the students, plus most of the student team (and two lovely ladies from Fusion) spent a weekend in the Lake District, relaxing together.

There have been hard times too.

Watching friends suffer, and feeling utterly powerless to do anything to help: for instance those undergoing treatment for cancer; others grieving over losses; some battling mental illness.

Recently I/we seem to have suffered a spate of deaths: someone we’ve known since we were postgrad students; former colleagues; friends from the gaming community. I’ve pretty much lost count now, which is rather sad, and I feel guilty about that… But at times almost drowning in grief - when the latest one hits you it’s hard to remember exactly who died five deaths ago. None of them were really close friends, so I don’t feel as though I have any right to be so upset; but perhaps it’s the sheer volume which has overwhelmed me. I remembering hearing something, years ago, about how life changes - that when you’re a young adult, you go to lots of weddings, then a few years later, that’s followed by lots of christenings; later still, funerals. I think it’s true - other than my son’s wedding, I haven’t been to a wedding for ages, and I haven’t been to many Christenings. But funerals on the other hand - I could go to loads. There are a lot of people out there, so there must, logically, be a lot of deaths… But I really wasn’t ready for the sort of ‘deluge’ I’ve been experiencing lately. It’s heartbreaking.

Woven in and through all that, the good and the bad, and walking alongside me, is Jesus the Messiah. Walking in ways which are intangible, but very real; and in tangible ways through the life of His body the church here on earth. I couldn’t get through life without that.

God bless you.

Copyright Phil Hendry, 2020