I’m not sure what to make of this.
One of the women in our congregation works as a care assistant to a woman with a disability. She was talking with this woman and the woman’s cleaner, both of whom are Buddhists. They were asking her about why she came to Sheffield. She told them about coming to learn about church planting and about what our church we as like. The cleaner asked her what her church was called so she told her. ‘I thought it might be,’ the cleaner replied. ‘I was at a Buddhist retreat weekend recently and the trainer commended The Crowded House as a model. They said The Crowded House were good at creating community.’
I’m not sure whether the imprimatur of Buddhists is a blessing or not! I guess a good reputation with unbelievers is positive, but I suspect some of our more conservative friends might take this as confirmation of their worst fears. So let me relate another story …
Eight of us sat round the table on Tuesday. A pretty disparate group of people. My family. A teenage girl. A woman on disability allowance. A young man who works in a supermarket. A pregnant woman whose husband was away on business in London. It was beautiful. We ate a simple meal together, talked, laughed, shared our news, encouraged one another. And we broke bread together. As we did so I was struck again how this kind of community cannot be created by human effort or human vision. The Buddhists are wasting their time if they think The Crowded House is any kind of model that can be copied. This kind of community is created by the body and blood of Jesus. ‘We, though we are many, are one body because we all partake of the one loaf.’ It is the death of Jesus that brings together such disparate people and makes us family.