... And they rumble and rumble. And wolf asked “What is rumbling in my stomach so much?” Of course no answer was given. Then he drank from the well, fell down and drowned.
Clearly the wolf had nothing to keep him afloat. What about you and me?
At the moment I am struggling health-wise, and I feel very much like the wolf in the story of Little Red Riding Hood. However there is a profound difference: I have lots to buoy me up. I have some friends who care deeply, pray for me and keep in contact. Unlike a friend of mine, who drank a bottle of Holy Water secretly and replaced it with ordinary water when he was a child, I even officially get Holy Water to sip! How wonderful!
With my health not being what I would like it to be I think a lot about my body, what I put into it, what I ask of it and how much rest it gets. I have never done that sooo religiously, I can assure you. That is something else that keeps me afloat – taking care to eat and drink things that don’t harm me. And I have to be a doubly fast learner these days just to keep afloat and, if not running, at least walking.
This situation of course makes me also think of the Body of Christ more than usual. No, I don’t mean the Administration in the office of the Archbishop of Canterbury. I think more about your everyday ordinary local parish church. How do we relate to each other on a human level? Are we sufficiently good friends with each other that we don’t have to wait just for the priest to bring communion? What practical help can there be forthcoming, quite apart from the lovely feeling that a visit of friends may give?
Here come some other things into play too. First there has to be the asking. Mostly I don’t receive because I am too shy – or proud – to ask. Another potential risk is the intimacy that this creates. Not only would you get involved with the person in need as a caregiver, however short or superficial this may be. You may see another person’s dirty underwear or become aware of the fact that s/he is a lot poorer than you realised before. This may create embarrassment on both sides. How do we deal with these things? Usually we just avoid them by not asking or finding excuses for not doing. And, I reassure you, I am just as guilty of them all as the next person.
Jesus had none of those hang-ups. He went in and did what he could to change the situation for the sick person – in some cases even dead – without embarrassment or how this could affect his own standing. Can we say the same of our own small Body of Christ? If not, is there a way to work on this?
Let’s be optimistic. The summer is here; Summer Sunday Lunches at St Matthew’s Westminster are in full swing and well attended. What a wonderful opportunity to get to know each other better and so create more friendships. How could they stand the test of moving beyond the building?