It's been good to have anonymous as a dialogue partner. Really got the grey matter going. And hopefully, the thinking will lead to action.
The recession adds a whole new dimension to this discussion, as anonymous suggests by way of a tangent (the whole comment on the last post repays careful reading). I do have all sorts of fears that cash will drain away from much of the good work that is being supported by Christians as they tighten their belts and that Christians might become more self-absorbed as they see their incomes falling.
But I think the recession - we can use that word now as the governor of the Bank of England used it last night(!) - does afford us an opportunity to assess our values as individuals and communities. We will suffer mild discomfort as bills rise - though already food and fuel costs are coming off the peaks they hit in the summer - but the poor around the world will suffer greatly.
The difficulty with recessions is that they are so uneven in their impact on people. Some sail through them relatively unscathed and others find their lives shattered by them. And often those people can live on the same streets, exercise in the same gym, shop in the same malls. My prayer is that our eyes are opened to see how people are being affected.
One of the interesting features of this recession, however, is that it could affect the middle class in the south much more severely than others - unlike the downturns in the early 1980s and 1990s. It is people working in financial services - and those trades dependent on them in London - and those who've relied on debt, especially tied up in property, to fuel their lifestyle who are at the eye of this storm. And these people are my neighbours.
Inevitably, as they are affected, there will be knock-ons in the wider economy affecting other sectors. But we have such a tiny manufacturing sector these days that it's unlikely we'll be seeing factory closures on the scale we saw in the 1980s.
So it's maybe not a time to focus on singing but on sharing, on being honest about how we're doing and how we can support one another and those who could well be in need around us. In short, we have an opportunity to be church in a significantly deeper, more Christ-focused way.
Of course, some would say that a sing-song in a crisis is just the medicine we need, but I'm not sure I want to go there...