Liberation is not easy. Liberation is not pain free. Liberation often involves difficult battles and suffering. It may well be liberating to swim naked in an ocean but true liberty is the freedom to be ourselves; to accept and love ourselves for who we are.
I share this story as a simple lesson in unconscious bias. As pastors in training we demonstrated our own prejudice. No doubt we demonstrate such prejudice every day without thinking as we did in the comfort of our classroom. Prejudice is sin; prejudice is a deep rooted sin in the church and we need to reflect, acknowledge and repent of our sin.
I will admit I can find it somewhat pretentious to talk about the prophetic. I think it comes from the experience of preachers claiming to be prophetic, having prophecies or claiming a title of Prophet and making bold claims that God is speaking to them about specific issues of the future. Frequently these claims are broad brushstroke type claims that really say very little and come across a bit like a horoscope. The prophetic church empowers the disempowered, speaks to the places of power and acts with integrity and humility for and with those who are powerless because these are the ways of God.
It is fairly common to refer to the church as a body. This stems from the writing in the New Testament attributed to Paul which refers to the church as the 'body of Christ' (Ephesians 4:12). The church is a body. It is not perfect and nor should it be. It is broken and it can be beautiful when we accept its gifts, diversity, fragility, disabilities and scars.
The church is broken because we still have broken mindset about the church. We have a broken mindset about humanity. We have a broken mindset about God. I have an evolving vision for the church. The hope I have is that church can be at it's best when it accepts its faults, cracks and brokenness and allows God to bring wholeness.
I have been reflecting on what I saw and experienced in Zimbabwe, the physiological, political and financial needs, the church, the business, the searching for a saviour and the reflections I see in the UK. My reflections bring me to the theme of water. What concerns me is the church has become reliant on models of delivering sanitised spirituality through a Victorian system or a bottled version with exaggerated promises.
One week I am waking up wondering about the safety of a journey across Harare to the airport, the next I am taking my kids to school then heading towards the Houses of Parliament. One week I have no internet due to the Zimbabwe government shutting it down, the next I have easy access to high speed broadband and 4G wherever I go. One week I am in glorious sunshine the next I am wondering if the snow might settle or if it will just blow around a do nothing.
Strangely, as the day begins with such a precious moment it is also the day I feel most home sick. I am comfortable, safe, back amongst all my creature comforts and more precious loved one. Yet I have the feelings of homesickness, a longing to be back in Zimbabwe.
As a team of mostly white European Christian’s we rely on our money, tablets, bottled water, lotions, potions, phones, wifi, we don't rely on God. We rely on our intellect to win the game of politics of church power and control. We rely on safe foods, hand sanitizer, ability to bride, insurance, contacts in high places ... who is our God?
Fridges that would typically stock soda’s and juice are empty as there is no one bringing supplies A couple of craft shops remain open and we are amused by a poster stating “The Party Starts Here” yet everywhere is closed and there are few people around.