Sunday, 2 October 2011

On Liking Cake

One of my favourite parts of teaching Sunday School is the bit where we ask them what they want to pray for this week.  The suggestions generally range from 'my granda is sick' through 'I have a test tomorrow' to 'I like cake'.

This always gets me wondering: at what point in life does it become unacceptable to announce in a prayer meeting that you like cake?  For I can guarantee that if I did this at the church prayer meeting, I'd get 'looks'.  What is the point at which we think we have to be all grown up and serious?  And also, why?

It's almost as if we think it actually matters to God how we pray.  As if we think we can, in any way, approach the Creator of the universe as anything other than ridiculous creatures who should, by rights, be flicked away to stop us cluttering the place up with our crappiness.  As if we think He'll only hear us if we say it all proper, instead of just coming and enjoying being overawed by the fact that we're there at all.

I think God likes it when we come and tell Him that we like cake, or that we don't like cake, or that we saw a cloud shaped like a chicken today.  I think He maybe likes that better than when we pretend that we are proper serious creatures who can only bring 'worthy' things and when we are a little bit proud that we have managed to learn about another worthy thing.  I don't think He minds us praying about serious things either, of course, but mostly I think He just likes when we pray about things that delight us, and things that matter to us, and things that are in our hearts and on our minds, whether those are serious or not.

I wonder if God has more fun being at the church picnic where people are chatting and having fun and talking about how their week was and what's happening in the week ahead and whether they should plant the spring bulbs yet or wait till after the first frost and probably not being very spiritual at all, than He does at the Bible studies where we're so focussed on finding out more information about Him that we forget how crazy it is that we can know anything about Him at all, so instead of just laughing and appreciating what we have we get all earnest and furrow our brows and look up things in Greek dictionaries.

Sometimes when I watch people in churches squabbling about stuff, I'm amazed by how much both sides seem to think the stuff in question matters.  I mean, sometimes it does, and sometimes difficult issues need to be debated.  But, when people fall out over the time of the prayer meeting or the colour of the carpet or the length of the hymns or the content of the hymns or the age of the hymns or anything to do with the freaking hymns for Pete's sake, I picture them as small children squabbling over who drew the nicest picture for mummy, when neither of them is exactly Monet and in any case mummy's just happy they drew her pictures at all, and that they were on paper and not on the wall, and also that it kept them quiet for an hour so she could put the dinner on and mop the kitchen floor, and I think I've lost the thread of this analogy now.

But the point is that when we think there's a 'right way' and a 'wrong way' of doing things, we start to deny how great God is and how not great we are, and we start to make it all about who is the most 'correct', as if any of us is capable of coming close to the goodness of God, and then we get all arrogant and that is Not A Good Thing.


rev_bookworm said...

Hi first time to post a comment on a blog. Really loved this- a similar thought re the squabbling came to me one day a few years ago when for the nth time I had asked the boys to stop fighting and for the nth time they blamed each other.It just made me feel tired! It occurred to me then, that that must be how God sometimes feels about us. Thank you for the lovely thought and the reminder- I'm away to eat some cake.


Anonymous said...

Sometimes in church when they bring the kids up to the front they have a prayer time. The children put up their hands if they want to pray out loud. As it was harvest there were two or three "Thank you God for our food" but there was also "help me not be greedy"; "help me to be truthful". Every time they do this in church it brings tears to my eyes (and I never cry!)- the beauty of their innocence and the reminder that the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these

gimpternet said...

I've often thought that for believers or atheists there is one of two possible outcomes on the way- the resurrection or an evolutionary divergence. Either means all the fine detail of everyday life we focus on now is largely meaningless. That shouldn't mean a retreat to Sartres miserableness; "Every existing thing is born without reason, prolongs itself out of weakness, and dies by chance." Rather we should celebrate everything.