Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Opening the cafe again

Our next cafe church is looming. The tough issue this time is why does a God of love allow so much suffering. It's a big, intractable issue that we can't do justice to in an hour and half - but we'll have a go at provoking some questions, some thought and some empathy for and with those who suffer.

It's always struck me that suffering is a complex of problems not a single issue. It's to do with philosophy and morality, ethics and metaphysics, of course, but it's also about politics and how we organise ourselves as communities and nations. It's a good topic to follow on from Make Poverty History. How much of Africa's suffering is made by us and the way we organise things like trade and aid?

And then of course, suffering is an emotional and pastoral issue. It's a problem because it hurts. And it hurts so much it's hard to think straight.

So on Sunday evening we're going to try and tackle some of this using video clips - Apollo 13, Bruce Almighty, Schindler's List, I Giant Leap - drama, a bit of talking and music - especially the Vigilantes of Love's Resplendent.

On top of that we're going to have a gazebo of life in our welcome area - a place to pray about suffering (mine, my friend's and the world's) using words, paint, crayons, clay and whatever else comes to hand. And we're going to build a sort of theological labyrinth - a series of stations that will take us on a theological journey into the heart of what our faith says about suffering and how we think about this issue in the presence of God.

The aim as always is to make people think. On top of that, I feel that we also need to help people express themselves - their anger, pain, joy, frustration and faith. And we need to realise that however hard we think and pray, we'll not get an answer, just pointers to help us live better, more faithful lives in the mess this world is.

I'm excited and scared stiff in equal proportions...

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