Witness

We have watched a bit of telly this week. Well, I love the football and the fact that it is on 24-7 is a fine state of affairs as far as I am concerned and I wouldn’t mind this being a permanent state of affairs. I am aware that I could well be in a minority of 1 here. So there has been some negotiation going on at Martha Towers, allowing other people in the house to watch programmes in between the three matches a day that are being covered at the moment. Look – it’s only on for a month and then it’s another four years! I don’t think I am asking much. (We may talk at a later date about the casual sexism of my new hairdresser who could not quite over the fact that I knew a bit about football. “Well, I am shocked! Really shocked).

I have watched a couple of things that the young people are watching as an olive branch to the rest of the family and I have been really challenged. The first programme is on Netflix – Queer Eye. The idea is that five gay chaps are invited to help someone change their life around. They look at clothes, their home. personal grooming, diet etc bringing impeccable taste and sound advice. At the end we see the new person and cry like babies. So far, so formulaic. But, no stay with me here, the people they choose are people who have really lost their way. They are people who have stopped trying. Life and its circumstances have worn them down. There was the man who lived with his girlfriend, in her ex’s trailer who couldn’t believe that she would love him and expected her to leave. Or the young man who was adopted at birth by a lady who had loved him and cared for him. Now she was concerned that, as he was about to leave for college, he had no life skills with people his own age and would struggle to fit in because of his lack of knowledge about modern life. The chaps mainly come in and choose clothes and dole out sound advice and a decent haircut but it is all done so gently and lovingly – with no judgement – only kindness. It makes you cry. (Well it makes me cry) I am aware of the elephant in the room here when we are talking about gay people and Christianity and I am not making any claims about anything. However, this is life affirming stuff. Sorry but it is. (Not sorry)

Also Curvy Brides Boutique. This is basically big girls trying on wedding dresses. Well, very big girls. Now I am not saying that being big is a satisfactory state, it’s unhealthy and a lot of the girls who come in quite obviously have lots of issues. However, they have also been to wedding dress shops where they have been treated really badly – asked to leave in some cases or spent a fruitless day trying to squeeze into dresses that are obviously too small and left with their last bit of self esteem trampled into the changing room carpet. That all changes when they visit this boutique. Ali and Jo don’t judge – they just put them in dresses that fit. They wipe their eyes when they are overwhelmed because someone has treated them with dignity. They leave feeling like people rather than freaks.

You might look at this and think that is a very Christian way to be and I can see a lot of Jesus in this behaviour but none of these people have any kind of Christian beliefs as far as I can tell. (One of the Queer Eye chaps was brought up in a Christian home but he was shunned by the whole community when he came out as gay aged 15) And it’s a challenge is it not? I don’t have the monopoly on graceful thought and behaviour. Indeed some sections of society feel that Christianity may have abdicated its right to be seem as the graceful, good influence on the world – shot full of integrity and humility. The avowedly Christian current American Administration and its charming way with refugees, our own dear Christian¬† Prime Minister who seems a decent sort but was apparently responsible for the “hostile environment” which resulted in the deportation and detention of the Windrush people and, if you want to see one to one examples of how Christians can sometimes behave to those they disagree with – have a look at Vicky Beeching’s Twitter feed. You may not agree with with a single word she says – I am not sure that entitles you to send her direct messages telling her how long she will burn (along with appropriate scripture) I know that this isn’t entirely true. I personally know of Christians who are doing all the good stuff. Still, it makes me think.

I am not just called to own the name of Christian, I am called to live it. Live out grace, justice, forgiveness, winsomeness (I love that word). It’s a challenge – sort of makes me want to pull my pants up and reclaim my name.

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