Spirituality on Sunday: Godspeed


Pastor Matt encountering the brilliant Alan Torrance…

I watched this lovely little video, ‘Godspeed:  The Pace of Being Known’ a few months ago.  It is a beautiful video featuring the experience of an American pastor moving to Scotland and finding a different pace of life.  I do have to say, as a Scotsman myself, that some of what comes across in the video doesn’t necessarily strike true about some aspects of culture in Scotland…its a bit rose-tinted in places, a bit tartan-romantic, but that doesn’t detract from the beauty of the message that Matt tries to get across.

In relatively sleepy Scottish parishes, Matt discovers the heart of ministry and mission:  people.  Seems obvious, eh?  He discovers that people aren’t just faces in a congregation but they are stories with lives, perspectives, understandings, prejudices and a whole lot of humanity.

It strikes me that a lot of what flows publicly from our pulpits (and I speak as a preacher) can fail to find real connection, especially if our theology remains on the idealistic plain rather in the nitty gritty of life.  Where is the theology that speaks directly to the human experience of people?  One of the treasures I’ve discovered in my MA studies in Celtic Spirituality and Mission is NOT the green Celtic patterns and twee poetic airy-fairy ideas which often passes as Celtic spirituality, but rather a spirituality which engages the real day to day experience of people.

Anyway, I don’t want to spoil the film for you, but Matt learns that the way to engage is to slow down, stop the professional pastor game, and get to know people in their kitchens, their farms and workplaces, the local pub…and learn there the rhythms of the people.  The most poignant moment for me is when Matt turns up to a church placement looking for his office only to find that he doesn’t have one….his ‘office’ is the community in which he lives!  He talks about doing ministry at God-speed….learning from the spirituality of Jesus who arrived in human history and walked the streets of his communities with real people.

I don’t think this is a message just for the ‘professionals’ – this is for all of us as Christians.  Is our theology a neat ‘pie-in-the-sky-when-you-die’ affair, or does it have something to say to 21st century life, its pressures and about the transformation that walking with Christ brings?

Check out the video and see what speed you’re walking at.  Incidentally, there is a website with resources to help you engage with the ideas in the video with friends.

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