THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS ‘Small Change’
Thousands of Labour Party members have just voted for a gigantic change, reminding me of how just over forty years ago this month, a young couple with two toddlers had their lives totally changed, never to be the same again. They were parachuted by God into a declining, racially troubled part of inner south London experiencing great cultural change. I had no idea what we’d let ourselves in for when Ann and I said ‘yes’ to the call of God to go and let the wind of the Holy Spirit free and show the community what God’s love actually looks like . We had the vision of building a church that was to become the heart of Clapham Park at the heart of Clapham Park..
The buildings were revamped, rebuilt and opened Monday to Friday as a centre for the jobless to come to, asylum seekers to come to, and single parents to find support, the lonely friendship. A café was opened, sports and performing arts were encouraged; I’m sure ‘open mike’ was invented here. The name of our church was changed to reflect that here was a welcome to the changing face of London as God brought the nations to us.
Exciting days; women started being released into ministry, the Holy Spirit started giving us gifts and skills we’d never known before, people started coming for prayer and healing, Muslims started getting visions of our ‘white building’ and came to discover Jesus wasn’t dead on a cross.
But these changes were not without pain for traditionalists, as underlying racism, sexism and ageism was confronted. Christianity 24/7 was too much for some. It was painful seeing the pain they were going through, just like the pain the Bible describes when the eagle stirs up it’s nest to get it’s babies flying.
Eaglets liked the comfort of the warm nest lined with rabbit fur, but when their parents start dismantling it with them still in it, there is confusion, resentment, discomfort and a great deal of protest. Eventually all they have known and felt secure in is removed from under them and they are left shivering on a windswept mountain side with nothing but a great drop beneath them.
Then, horrors of horrors, their mother pushes them over the side into the great unknown, and they tumble, down, down, down, but just before crashing to their death, from out of the sky swoops their father and catches them on his outstretched wings, and ferries them back up to where their nest had been. Barely having time to catch their breath, mother heaves them over the side again, but this time they move their wings a little and find that something happens before once again their father appears to bear them up on his wings.
These eagle flying lessons, are the way God gets us flying. (Deuteronomy 32v11)
Change, discomfort, pushing us out of our comfort zone, bearing us up, letting us discover He’ll never let us crash. That’s what this young couple learnt over 40 years and are still learning; it’s what that church community learnt, and it’s what God is teaching another church He has assigned us to up here in rural East Anglia at the end of the ‘’sunshine’ railway line.
It seems change is here to stay, but there’s definitely no such thing as ‘small change’. Change is always big. Note worthy in fact.