Out and About TOGETHER
It’s Monday evening (11th February). The clock ticks towards 6.30. Around a dozen people gather round the fire in the meeting room of Hotel Indigo, one of Dundee’s new hotels.
They come from our two congregations: male and female, aged from 15-ish to 60+-ish.
The room is lovely and warm though the “fire” is on the screen mounted on the wall. It can be used for Powerpoint presentations, films etc. but we have gathered to talk about the bible and to get to know one another – and ourselves – better, so we don’t need any technology, not even the flipchart. Name badges are declined, and I am not sorry. In such an intimate gathering, why spoil things with something formal and “conference-y”?
Some people have come prepared with their own bibles, and I’ve brought along a selection of different versions which I spread out on the table for reference.
As the discussion progresses, we discover that having access to these various translations is helpful. In some cases they help to throw more light on an obscure verse; in others they make us groan because a much cherished passage sounds completely different, but not better. The margin notes in the Youth Bible are helpful when we try to get our heads round the “Word” in chapter 1 of John’s Gospel.
We talk about listening to scripture being spoken in a foreign language; not as obscure as you might think, for the cadences help, and we can follow the passage in our own copy of the bible.
We debate the use of “man”, “mankind” etc. when strictly speaking both genders are meant. One of the younger women doesn’t take issue with this older style of language, which might surprise you, while one of the older women prefers the new.
We remember passages that have puzzled us, when we’ve had to admit we’re not exactly sure what was meant. We acknowledged that sometimes our own times and culture colour our reaction: for example, how easily can we accept the fate of the two thousand or so pigs that rush down the side of the cliff to their deaths? (Mark 5:1-20)
All too quickly it’s 8.00 and time for us to bring things to a close, which we do by saying the Grace together.
It has been a great start to our four gatherings on topics raised in Learn: Eldership (produced by the Church of Scotland).
I wonder how much of a difference it made not to meet in one of our church halls?
What was most special to me was to welcome people from both congregations: this is the start of our joint working in this now not so new linked charge.