So let’s do it, as Victoria Wood might say. Let’s get well and truly ‘Wongad.’
To get wongad, sorry about the noun-verb confusion, is to occupy two worlds at once. A world of hope, where a better future becomes possible, in missional terms where the unjust structures of society are challenged and better alternatives offered, whilst at the same time occupying the ‘real’ world, the messy world, in the full knowledge that our own house is not necessarily neat and tidy, spic and spam, entirely ready to receive middle class, educated people just-like-you-and-me, guests.
Of course when we go out to get Wongad we will get criticized and ridiculed; we will be viewed as uncouth, a challenge to the status quo, and, if we have enjoyed a particular form of upbringing, either in the home or in our church family, many will say ‘and who would have thought he / she would turn out like that, after all the advantages they have been given.’
Oh, group think is so much easier. But, the advantages aren’t really freely given, under this scenario they are simply passed on, with conditions attached. And one of the conditions is this: preserve the veneer that everything is as it should be, the world we have been taught to inhabit is the real world, one where neatness and tidiness are givens, and one where we should never step out (in faith) and do, or say anything remotely radical, until our own house is in order. The trouble with this approach is it simply isn’t the Christian way.
Consider this: what if God had waited until His (yes! His please note I am not making a gender point!) creation was in order before………………He intervened?
And so, we mustn’t wait until our house is in order, our ducks in a row before we intervene.
Yesterday, in the Sunday Times, Rod Liddle wrote: ‘Poor Welby. He has been caught (now that’s an interesting word, isn’t it!?) doing something the Church of England prelates have practiced for years: inhabiting two very different worlds simultaneously. The first one is the fantasy island of the modern liberal left, where one lives a pristine private life free from the untrammeled evils of capitalism because, maaaan, we’re not part of that corrupt system. And, the second, which is the real (nice judgement and truth claim expressed here) one, the rest of us inhabit, in which life is a procession of difficult compromises, and none of us is perfect, but we do the best we can.’
Welby does not live in a fantasy, nor has the ABC made any claims about the pristine nature of his own life, or that of the church. Nor, should any Christian. But Christians should inhabit two world’s at once. The world of Chronos, where the imperfection of the world, and our own complicity in its imperfection, is revealed through time, and Kairos where care and compassion (basic ingredients of redemption and restoration) are brought into play. Christianity is lived in the tension between dark and light, between the ‘real’ and the possible. To inhabit both worlds is not to be a trendy-lefty, or a fantasist, it is simply to pray ‘thy kingdom come on earth as in heaven,’ in the full knowledge that to do so renders us open to ridicule from those who wish to stay firmly rooted in their perception of the ‘real’ world.
One final thought: in the night collects we pray ‘lighten our darkness we beseech thee O Lord,’ and ‘look down O Lord from they heavenly throne and illuminate the darkness of this night with thy celestial brightness and from the children of light banish the deeds of darkness.’ When we step into the light our prayers are answered, our darkness is revealed, maybe in a way that is uncomfortable. But, the only other scenario is not to enter into the light, if we do this our darkness will not be revealed.
Justin’s Wonga experience may lead the Church into both a new mission field and to promoting new and different ways of investing, and this may be the best of results. Two prayers may be answered, something of the breaking in of the kingdom of heaven in earth and, our own darkness being revealed. The two cannot be kept neatly in separate boxes.
Will you join Justin and get Wongad this week?