Heading South and Thinking Mission

South of the river that is, I do find it strange how the river Clyde divides not only the city of Glasgow itself but also it’s inhabitants.

Having exhausted all hospitals north of the river today I ventured south to the Southern General for a MRI scan.  While waiting for my appointment I got chatting to the staff and asked why I had ended up at the Southern for the scan when an earlier appointment which had been cancelled was at the Western Infirmary, well it transpires it was because I said I didn’t mind crossing the great divide – the Clyde.  There are those who live on the north of the Clyde that view going to the south-side as, as alien as travelling to Mars.  (I can honestly say that it really doesn’t bother me, maybe because I have lived both sides of the river.)  Any way apparently the waiting list for MRI scans at the hospitals north of the river are longer than those on the south because those who live on the north seem to be reluctant to travel for hospital care, I am sure that part of this is down to limitations of the public transport system when a river and its limited crossings are introduced, however seeing that they speak the same language, still drive on the left, there is no need for inoculations, passports or a visa, I didn’t think that venturing the short distance under the river to its southern shores was particularly adventurous so had raised no objections to going to the Southern and hence had got an earlier appointment than I would have had I said I wouldn’t cross the river.

As I was pushed into the chamber loaded into the torpedo tube; for this time as I had the use of my eyes it not only felt like it (the radiotherapy) but looked like it; I got to thinking.  I had hoped to get a nap, but actually it is very noisy and that wasn’t going to be on the cards, so instead I thought.  For many stepping over the church thresh hold is as alien a journey as a north of Glasgow resident going to the south-side.  It is somewhere they don’t venture and have strange impressions of,  what is more even if they do through the doors they will discover somewhere that has a different culture, uses strange words, has peculiar rituals, and sometimes even requires some kind of pre-existing affiliation.  We like to think that we, that is churches, are welcoming communities doors flung wide open for anyone, I can assure you that the people on the south-side of Glasgow think that they are welcoming to those from the north.  It isn’t about what we think we are about and doing, it is about how others perceive us.

We can have the best possible welcome for those who come through our doors, what we mustn’t forget is those who haven’t yet taking that small step which is a giant leap.  Those who because of things that have been said by those inside the church – clerics and laity alike – have perceptions that the church wouldn’t welcome them, doesn’t want to include them and would even slam the door in their face.  For some out there the church is far more threatening and dangerous than the south-side of Glasgow until we grasp and wrestle with that we will still only be playing with the tip of the mission iceberg.


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