They are worthy, these words echo in my mind, words spoken over me when I was received into Full Connexion as a Methodist Minister, like many other I can report that the effect that they have is overwhelming and humbling! They are powerful life giving words, and they echo with a deep truth from the heart of God, but I am actually not writing about me or about my ordination, I am writing about some of my friends of whom I am often asked the dehumanising question; "Are they worthy?"
Are they worthy? Just let that question settle in your heart and mind for a moment, how might you feel if someone were to ask that question about you? Let's make it a little more unpallatable, because really underneath that somewhat self righteous sounding question lies the question "are they worth it?" Are they worth my time, my effort, my compassion, my giving?
Surely to ask such a question of another human being is to dehumanise not only them but also ourselves. We so easily create barriers, the tabloid press delight in this, demonising the poor and the vulnerable, as sanctions and benefit cuts create an underclass who we are encouraged to ignore. So I want to ivnite you to meet some of my friends, friends who knowing that I have been signed off have sent me messages of support, texts sending love and encouragement, asking how they might be of help to me. A card saying get well soon, I miss you, and two angels who came to help yesterday by tidying up my garden and putting in some new fence pannels that have been waiting to be put in for months.
Who are my friends? Well we met at the Comfort Zone at North Shore Methodist Church, our drop in for vulnerable and homeless people in the Blackpool area, each of them has a story to tell, and many of them are overcoming issues like alcoholism and gambling addictions. They are overcomers not only of their own social problems which have back stories of their own, just as my brokenness has its own backstory. They are also overcomers of a system that dares to ask if they are worthy, of judgemental attitudes from society and sadly sometimes from within the church. A small group of my friends took a step into Church membership a couple of weeks ago, of course that has not fixed them in the same way that it has not fixed me, but it offers to all of us the chance to walk together on a path of healing, wholeness, love and holiness!
We should never ask whether another human being is worthy, if we do we need to ask the same question of ourselves. Instead we need to place ourselves in a position to hear their stories and to empathise with them no matter what their condition, and maybe have a bot of a better perspective of our own. Maybe our deepest challenge is to receive within our hearts and souls God's proclomation over us that we are good, made in his image and good, not a flase outward goodness but a deep reality that reflects our createdness and calls us to humility.
Are they worthy, are we worthy? The creator of our beings says yes, so much so that he was willing to give his life for us, so much so that he overcame death for us, so much so that he does not leave us alone, but sends the Spirit to whisper into our spirits, " you are worthy, and you are loved." Let those who have ears hear!
The window in the lounge at North Shore, where The Comfort Zone meets.