Tuesday, 18 May 2010

church - a presence in the community

It's been a strange evening...
Richard answered the phone and was asked if he was a priest. He was then told to "have a pen and paper and write this down" He was given an address and as he was trying to work out whether it was his parish or mine was informed that there was a dead person at the address. The person wouldn't give their details but just said they wanted the police to be told but didn't want to be involved.
Richard rang the police and passed on all the information he had. There were then several calls about the situation during the evening, including one confirming that there was indeed a dead person at the given address.
An event like this makes you start asking all sorts of questions and wondering who the deceased was, who the person who called was, why they didn't want to talk to the police, and many, many more besides.
I got to wondering about why they rang us and why they thought a vicarage would be a good place to phone. There was traffic noise in the background of the phone call - was the person standing outside the church reading the phone number on the notice board? It is often said that the church has lost its place in society and is no longer relevant in the community but I think the phone call we received shows this not to be true. The person felt that they needed to contact the police but for some reason didn't want to do that themselves. They chose to find a church to phone and ask the clergy to pass on the message. This says something to me of their feeling that they could trust that the message would be passed on, yet their anonymity be preserved. Why chose a church and not one of the shops, pubs or anyone else? Perhaps it shows that the church is still seen as being enough part of the estabishment that it carries some authority.
When I was planning to keep this blog for my Sabbatical I proposed to take photos as I saw things and then to reflect on the pictures and perhaps something on what it said to me but today I had the thoughts and then tried to create a photo which somehow reflected the thoughts. In the picture the cross is present but is partly obscured and seems distant. I wonder if the same can be said of the church, it is present but not always seen; some people feel that it has nothing to say to them and is barely noticeable. However when people find themselves in a time of difficulty they often turn to the church and a place which seemed out of touch comes closer and becomes available to them.

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