The 4th Sunday after Pentecost

I do a lot of driving. And yes, we did a fair bit of driving exploring Crete – only the western ‘half’ – and adjusting to driving on the right side of the road is always fun! (We did have a nice time away.) Now I’ve written about driving before. Near misses. Road closures and detours. But this time what caught my eye was on the A11. I was heading down for the beginning of the European Lutheran Conference (which is another event I should write about!) when I started seeing the official big yellow road signs.

They were situated perhaps nearly a mile apart and they told a story of major traffic disruptions occurring. There were signs about detours. Signs about parking (I think that was to do with Duxford). Signs about expecting delays. And then I saw in the midst of the signs – and the more regular ones resumed after it – all big and yellow and official.

Do not follow sat nav.

I laughed. What does that mean?

When? Forever? Just on the A11? Just if you take one of detours?

Was it a legitimate sign? (It looked a proper sign.) Or a spoof? A practical joke?

The sign was a message that I had to interpret. I had not only to read it but also try and understand it. However I responded to it would affect my behaviour – change it perhaps or confirm my current behaviour. If I now believed all sat navs unreliable and should not be followed then perhaps I’d get rid of mine and return to maps. Whether or not I could use my phone instead might become an ‘ethical’ dilemma! What would I do if later I saw another official big yellow sign that declared ‘Follow your sat nav’? Might I have a ‘crisis of faith’ in the big yellow signs?

Ok, I’m being facetious. Yet as I drove on, I did wonder why we believe and behave as we do. Is it a matter of upbringing? Is it a thought through rationale? Or do we think, believe, and behave as we do simply because it ‘works’ and hasn’t got us into too much trouble?

I tend to think that the world regards the Bible as a rule book it no longer needs and the Christian Church increasingly irrelevant and even dangerous to future progress. The Christian Church, it seems to me, is embarking on a new phase of being a servant in the world as it loses its privileged position in many lands. I also wonder whether the modernist wave of ‘humanism will win out over religion’ has not already started to lose its puff when one looks at the global scene and religious adherence (it isn’t declining).

And in all this flux and changing directions, there is one thing that keeps standing – the story of a cross and an empty tomb. And there is someone who keeps standing – Jesus Christ. He isn’t a new law giver. His book isn’t a rule book but a library of God’s grace and humanity’s sins and the Church’s struggles. The story in this library can captivate us, enthral us, and give us a new perspective on everything. Yet this Jesus calls us to ‘follow him’ and so we do not get to live our lives exactly as we please – especially if the hallmark of discipleship involves repentance and struggle. And yet this Jesus is always ready to walk with us and help and his relationship with us shapes us – how we think, how we believe, and how we behave.                                                                                                   GS