A Tale Of The Unexpected

 

This afternoon, I got the opportunity to do something that not many people get the chance to do.

I smelt wild otter poo!

Yes, you read that correctly!!!!  When you think about it, what else would a Baptist Minister do when he is at the Retreat Association Conference?

Looking back, the moment was quite surreal.  Our workshop leader said that we didn’t have to smell it if we didn’t want to but, if we would like to give it a go, we were welcome to have a sniff.

I was quite glad that the pot of otter waste began it’s journey on the other side of the room to me because, I could gauge how revolting this experience was going to be by the expressions on the faces of the other participants.  Most looked quizzical as they passed the pot from person to person.  As it headed in my direction I found it impossible to gauge what I would smell once it arrived in my hands (still in the pot!!).

After a short while, the pot of excrement arrived in my hand.  I looked in.  I won’t describe the detail of it in case you are of a nervous disposition.  Should I sniff or, shouldn’t I sniff?  That was the question.  In my own mind I imagined what it would smell like based on what I could see.

I lifted the pot toward my nose and took a gentle sniff.  I then became a bit braver, I took a larger sniff.  I will not describe the odour of otter to you but, I will say, it was not what I was expecting.

I have been thinking about some verses from the Bible when Jesus says;

“Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults—unless, of course, you want the same treatment. Don’t condemn those who are down; that hardness can boomerang. Be easy on people; you’ll find life a lot easier. Give away your life; you’ll find life given back, but not merely given back—given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity.”

(Luke 6 vs. 37 – 38 The Message)

 

These words really challenged me.  It’s easy to look at people and make judgements based on what we think we know.  We look at an individual and make assumptions based on what we see and what we interpret.  In truth, however, we don’t know.

Sometimes, we have to suspend our own judgement and have the courage to step beyond our boundaries.  Who knows, we may be in for a little surprise!

 

 

 

GDPR

 

The initals GDPR are ones that are becoming increasingly familiar to many people at the moment. The General Data Protection Regulation came into force in the UK on 25th May. I caught an article in the newspaper the other day that suggested that many people do not know what GDPR is about, it amazed me because I feel as though I have been bombarded by organisations inviting me to “opt in” and warning me that if I don’t give my consent, I will lose contact with them.

At first sight, it looked as though it could be a bit of a nuisance but as GDPR moved closer I began to appreciate it. In fact, I have welcomed the opportunity to opt in or out of mailing lists. I was shocked at how many lists I have found my way onto over the years. For me, GDPR was an opportunity for a bit of a mailing list ‘spring clean’.

This has made me think.

This morning I was reading a story that Jesus told about a great banquet (Luke 14 vs. 15-24). The man throwing the feast sends out the invitations to the great and the good of the land. Once the feast was ready, the servants went out let those with invites know that the feast was prepared. One by one, each of the guests opt out with all manner of excuses.

A great feast was ready and yet nobody who had been invited wanted to partake.

The man called his servants together and sends them out again. This time, rather than the great and good the servants are to invite those on the margins. Unlike the great and good, those on the margins opt in. They are welcomed at the feast.

As the banquet hall fills, the servants comment that there is still room. The master decides to send them out again. This time, the servants are sent to those beyond the margins. Those who would have been considered as outcasts receive the invite and opt in.

Whenever I have thought about this parable in the past, I have regarded it as an image of the kingdom of God and seen it as a picture of the welcome Gods kingdom gives to all.

This morning, as I read the passage, I felt that God was saying something a little different to me.

Every day God invites us all to to join His mission of reaching out to the world and its up to us whether we accept His invite and “opt in” or, ignore it and opt out.

Which will you choose today?