31st July 2017
There is a story about an Ashram in India where every day the monks would come together for worship, and people who had come to seek the wisdom of the guru, would worship with them. Every day during the worship the monastery cat would come and wander round, purring and rubbing itself against people’s legs in a very friendly but very distracting way. If the cat didn’t get anyone’s attention, which was quite likely given that the worshippers were deep in prayerful meditation, it would begin to miaow or playfully run about and it became very intrusive.
So it was decided that just before the service the cat should be caught and tied to a tree so that it would no longer be able to cause a disruption. It worked well for many years, until the cat grew old and died. When a new cat was obtained it, too, was tied to the tree. Decades passed, and through the lifetime of many cats this tradition was continued. It became an integral part of the life of the Ashram that before worship could begin; a cat should be tied to the tree. No one knew why it was done, but it had always happened and it always would.
I wonder what happens in our churches that belongs to a bygone age? The things we do because we have always done them. The hymns we sing, the versions of the Bible that we cherish, but don’t really understand, the structures of our churches, the committees and business meetings, the times of the services. Are we still tying up the cat, and is Jesus shouting at us to overturn some of our traditions because instead of helping people to meet with God, as they have done in the past, they are doing exactly the opposite?
This will be my last reflection, as I am “sitting down” and retiring to Worksop. Thank you for your friendship over the past 5 years. I pray that God will continue to bless and challenge you in the days ahead
Rev Judith Satchell