I am thinking about the Terry Pratchett quote from Thief of Time:
“They were not bad men. They had worked hard on behalf of the valley for hundreds of years. But it is possible, after a while, to develop certain dangerous habits of thought. One is that, while all important enterprises need careful organisation, it is the organisation that needs organising, rather than the enterprise.”
I find myself spending quite a lot of time in conversations about improving the Church of England. But I do worry that this becomes too self-referential, too deckchairs-on-the-Titanic. Mission in my view is not about bums on seats and getting more people on our electoral rolls than any other faith, or any competing ‘faith’ like football or shopping. I think we may be over-anthropomorphising God in assuming our ‘faith’ is so important to him. Again – Terry Pratchett in Small Gods introduces the notion of Gods having only such power as is invested in them by the number of believers they are able to attract. If faith in this context has a wider definition than just membership, I think God might be more interested. Whether or not we believe in God doesn’t change God, yet if we are made in his image we might allow for his pleasure when the one leper does return to say thank-you. I think God’s plan is larger, and is about the transformation of his creation, and the restoration of man in his image. I’m not sure God cares which ‘religion’ delivers this goal, his Kingdom – he’s given them to us to help a feeble-minded creation build ladders back to God. So I am minded of the Jewish story about the drowning man, who was so sure of God’s help that he turned down a rescue boat and a helicopter. On arriving at the Pearly Gates he rails against God for letting him drown. God says, but I sent you a boat, and a helicopter… Where are God’s boats and helicopters for us today, and how can the churches and all other faiths stay faithful but porous and collaborative, to hasten our journey home?