I sold stuff at a carboot sale yesterday – for the first time! This morning, at another car-boot, I am proud to say, that unlike many other occasions in the past, I ambled past several bookstalls and felt no compulsion to purchase.
That should be like the pull of our old self. The old appetites, the old lusts. We no longer see the appeal any more. We know something far better. We go abroad, looking for pleasures, looking for something different, that je ne sais quois, thinking that it is better. But actually, we have something better at home already. Even inside us we have something better!
I think it was the Lord’s leading today: as I was scrambling among boxes of books for books that I thought I would not read again, or need again, and that others might buy, I came across a copy of ‘Redeeming our Communities’ by Debra Green. I had thought, when I went to our local ROC launch some months ago now where it was being sold at a good price, that I had one at home, but had not put my hands on it. I had signed up online to receive e-mailings from ROC, but this morning the first posted letter from ROC came through my door, with a newsletter . This makes me think that it is a good time to consider Redeeming Our Communities a little.
Debra Green came up with the idea and it launched in September 2004, coming out of Festival Manchester. What stirred me when I attended the launch event is the mix of people. You had police, secular youth workers, church goers, other community volunteers all coming together and wanting exactly the same thing: wanting to see communities redeemed. Debra Green starts off her book on the topic – which is now presumably not the last word on the matter as it was published in 2008! – saying the following:
When I heard a cabinet minister say, “I believe in community redemption – I have to, I’m a politician,” I felt as though someone had plugged me in to an electrical socket. Redemption was not a word you normally came across in secular circles, but I’d been hearing it more and more lately on the lips of Police chiefs, senior city council executives, and spotting it frequently in government reports. They were speaking our language!
I know that a project being considered in the pipeline in our area is a ROC cafe, such as the example shown in Cobridge here , which really excites me. But looking at the feedback from a recent ROC conversations meeting in our local town, the possibilities of what can be achieved when people with skills and availability are willing to donate their time, is truly awesome and speaks more of the kingdom of God in action than a year’s worth of sermons to bums on seats in church. How can I get involved? is what I’m thinking at the moment.
So coming back to where I opened, about not feeling the pull of the world… For me, having just also done a ‘yard sale’ in my front garden today, because we didn’t make it to another car boot at the appropriate unearthly hour this morning, I realised that every conversation I had with a local stranger was ‘building community’, was anointed, and I liked it! I spoke with about six holidaymakers from the nearby Caravan Park; with four or five elderly people waiting for the bus and happy to have a chat and a mooch down our long gravel drive, and my wife and I also made a potential friendship connection with a couple whose daughter is starting school at the same time as our boy in September. They all went away happy with their purchases and conversations. I didn’t mention Jesus once, but He was there all right.