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malcolm chamberlain

musings about the emerging church, mission and contemporary culture...

God is at large, intimately involved in his world in ways that the church is maybe just waking up to!


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

here's something I wrote recently for our church magazine...

For us as a family the dominating item over the last few weeks has been the dreaded box! On the Tuesday after Easter the Pickford’s team arrived at our then home in Aigburth and began packing all our worldly goods into boxes – nearly 200 of them! Then, two days later, they delivered those boxes, along with our furniture, to the Rectory opposite St Mary’s – and so began for us the lengthy (and still ongoing) process of unpacking boxes and finding new homes for all our stuff (minus the things we’ve bravely thrown out!)

And all this has got me thinking about how our lives are so often characterised by ‘boxes’ of sorts. We all have our preferred ways of doing things and understanding things. And, of course, there’s nothing wrong in having those ‘boxes’ – they generally offer stability and security, our own little known world in the sometimes frightening and often-unstable big world. The problems arise when I think that my box is the only valid box or, more specifically, that God only functions and dwells in my box because he only approves of my box. Sadly, churches can be masters at trying to box God up like this – whether it’s in terms of tradition, musical style, doctrine, what is considered ‘reverent’, or a myriad of other ways.

The gospel writers tell us that as Jesus breathed his last, hanging on a cross on that hot dusty Friday afternoon, the curtain in the temple was torn in two. This ‘curtain’ was not some flimsy fabric, but a formidable screen that had previously separated the perceived place of God’s dwelling from ordinary people. In this dramatic action it was as if God was visibly breaking out of the box that religion had tried to put him in. The implication… God cannot be contained or, as C S Lewis’ Mr Tumnus says in the first Narnia film, “Aslan is not a tame Lion”! It became clear at Pentecost that this ‘breaking out of God’ was so that he could relate personally, through his Spirit, to all people. No longer can we presume to ‘house’ God in any one specific place – God is making his home in countless places, in countless lives.

As I write, we’re still finding new homes for the things we’re taking out of boxes at the Rectory. I wonder what new homes God may find in this season of Easter? Will he find a new home in someone’s life, maybe even yours? Will he find a new home in your conversations and relationships? Take courage and allow God to break free from the boxes you’ve, maybe unwittingly, attempted to contain him in – you never know, you may just be pleasantly surprised!

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posted by Malcolm Chamberlain, 5:22 PM


Malcolm - probably because I am living since years physically in and out of boxes I was able to connect to your analogy quite immediately! Thanks 4 that and Thank you 4 sharing your views on the torn temple curtain - one of the very impressive images I carry with me even in the deepest struggles.

commented by Blogger Me, 9:10 PM  

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