Congregational thoughts on the Reflection Questions given on Sunday 7th June…

After the sermon on Sunday 7th June, the congregation were given three questions to consider. They were asked to send their thoughts to Kristee, who then summarised them.

The sermon can be watched here: The Sermon starts at 14.15.

The three quotes given followed by their question are:

‘Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world’. Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

  1. ‘What is the “little bit of good” that you could do this week?’

Now I am a force to be reckoned with‘: Rev Gini Gerbasi

2. ‘How can you be a force to be reckoned with?’

‘Love your neighbour as yourself’: Jesus

3. ‘Which of your “neighbours” needs your love?’

A summary of the congregational responses by Kristee Boyd, Community Development Officer:

Many thanks to those who took the time to engage with these questions and to let me know your thoughts. I believe that understanding each other’s perspectives and values is an especially important part of continuing to build a sense of connection and community at St Peter’s. If you’re not already sharing in this way, please do so in the weeks to come, even if it’s just a few sentences!

Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world – Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

  1.  What is the “little bit of good” that you could do this week?

This question gave me insight into the many small acts of kindness that St Peter’s folk carry out in their daily lives. Quite a few people do volunteer work in their community, making sure friends, family, neighbours and even complete strangers have enough to eat during this difficult time. One member of St Peter’s plans to donate blood this week for the first time since lockdown. Another plans to write to her elected representatives as way of bringing about positive change. In relation to Desmond Tutu’s quote above, the question was posed: Does it help us to see our small acts/contributions to justice as part of a larger vision which we are all involved in?

I usually summarise all feedback on the reflection questions, so that the summary highlights our collective thoughts and ideas. However, I’ve asked permission from Rev Sue Whitehouse to share her name along with the thought-provoking parable she shared with us, below:

On Sunday lunchtime…after watching the News…I was half watching the next programme “Homes Under the Hammer” (where people buy run down properties at bargain prices and then renovate them) and half thinking about the sermon. I gradually become aware that a parable was unfolding before me relating to the changes that must come about in society … and what is needed to bring them about. I remembered reading that Martin Luther King once said that “Change is not inevitable…it comes through struggle”… Certainly change would not have just happened to the dilapidated sixteenth century farmhouse that was the subject of the programme. What struck me most forcibly was that the renovation could not be the work of one person alone…many different people and many different skills were involved… I have listed below some of the connections I made with the house and society/our national institutions…

•  Overall Vision…the purchaser and his architect worked together with ideas from other people

•  Structure…the part that was sound was kept; the crumbling areas knocked down; the layout was partly reconfigured

•  Work behind the scenes, e.g., the building was checked for asbestos/health and safe

•   Legal documents were carefully scrutinised (in the matters of justice, who scrutinises Acts of Parliament to assess their impact on all areas of society and especially on the most vulnerable?)

•   Damp…a damp course put in to deal with the problem permanently.  I equated this with inbuilt racism and thought that the content of school/university /church teaching might be revamped to include and honour the history, achievements, literature, theology…of a whole range of different cultures.

•   Commitment of the purchaser…what motivated him was a determination to build a forever home… 

Now I am a force to be reckoned with – Rev Gini Gerbasi

2. How can you be a force to be reckoned with?

This question seemed to spark a lot of thought within our congregation. Being a ‘force to be reckoned with’ meant different things to different people. Some viewed it as simply choosing to be present for those who might need us, in the form of calling people we’ve not been in contact with of late, delivering fresh flowers from the garden to someone, offering our garden as a space for young children to play. A consistent theme that emerged was that of being genuine, having integrity, even to the point of being confrontational when the situation calls for it. One lady made a point that I think many of us can identify with – it can be very difficult to find the words to speak up, to be that ‘force to be reckoned with,’ when we feel upset or angry or when we are nervous in a situation of public speaking. She is discovering that her words become much more powerful in written form so, for her, this involves writing to MPs, MSPs, media and other publications. This reminded me of a poem by Mechthild of Magdeburg, which says, “A fish cannot drown in water, a bird does not fall in air… Each creature God made must live in its own true nature…”

Let’s continue to contemplate how we can be a ’force to be reckoned with,’ in accordance with our own unique personality and talents.

Love your neighbour as yourself – Jesus

3. Which of your “neighbours” needs your love?

More than one person pointed out that we need to be aware of opportunities to help when they present themselves to us. Interestingly, the examples provided all revolved around a deeper level of ‘helping’ than simple handouts. For example, just listening could be the ‘love’ that a neighbour needs from us. Following on from the house-renovation example that Sue gave, she asked if we need to be aware of ‘papering over the cracks’…i.e., painting over the damp so that it doesn’t keep appearing to damage the paint, instead of taking more radical action?

It seems that St Peter’s folk are contemplating some very interesting ‘big picture’ ideas as we move forward, ideas that are bigger than following tired old charity models of handouts, which can serve to perpetuate societal inequalities and power imbalances.

I’ll end with another powerful quote from Desmond Tutu: “There comes a point where we need to stop just pulling people out of the river. We need to go upstream and find out why they’re falling in.”

A download of the summary is available here: