Buddha realised this when he told the parable of the blind men and the
elephant. One blind man touched the head of the elephant, one the trunk, others still, a tusk or a tail or a back or a foot. When asked their conclusions, according to which part was touched, the elephant was described as a fan, a plough, a pillar, a broom and so on. Each man was convinced his description correctly described the elephant. So it is with many who insist that their little bit of truth as they have understood it, is the whole truth.
In this church we’ve never claimed to know the whole truth. However, we do know that life continues after death, but more importantly there is life before death. This means we can enjoy living knowing that what we do in this world helps us in the life to come. Those who come to the church thinking that talking to the dead will all be gloom and doom, leave very surprised at the humour in our services and that it is the so called “dead” who bring their laughter and joy for living with them. We don’t preach to people but let them draw their own conclusions and many who come in grief, leave with hope.
Some people find the comfort they need at a time of personal suffering or answers to questions they have always wanted to ask. For others their visit may be the start of a journey that will last the rest of their lives. It is often said that Spiritualism is a way of life. For those who understand the importance of using their present life wisely, they will be filled with a passion for living and helping others to gain in knowledge and understanding so they too can live their lives to the full.
Our door is open to all but keeping that welcome is hard work.
Forward thinking and planning is essential. Taking our church forward means
keeping ourselves informed of events outside the narrow confines of our
church, moving with the times not only in the use of modern technology but also being aware of national and social developments.
As we get older change can make us feel threatened, rather than
grasping the opportunity that it brings. There is a saying that “Why fix
something if it isn’t broken” but this only maintains things as they are and
leads slowly to stagnation. Let’s embrace opportunities while still maintaining the best practices gained through hard won experience not discarding everything we have understood from the work of the past but ready to welcome in the new. Just as mediums never stop developing, so churches continue to grow in understanding.
We as a congregation are moving forward, perhaps slower than some would like, but given that we are all volunteers, our regular services and events have been maintained this year and remarkable progress has been made in several areas which our Secretary mentions in greater detail and which you can read in his Report. Many of these achievements have been done by a few dedicated workers who continue in the face of illness and personal challenges and it is good to remember that there are no paid officials in Portobello only people who are passionate about working for God and Spirit.
Our achievements are impressive but due to the natural ageing process that affects us all, our mature but active volunteers now need the participation of younger members of the church. It is never enough to simply turn up for a development circle or a special event of personal interest or when the opportunity offers to do something you enjoy. Regular commitment to church activities is required if circles are to continue and services be available for demonstrations of survival and healing.
Pastoral work has to be maintained for our congregation of older and sick
members who can no longer attend the church. I sometimes think that people don’t see beyond the platform but the message I’d like to pass on tonight is that
every member must be passionate about the church.
The Bible reminds us of a natural progression in all things. The
prophet, Joel tells us “your old men shall dream dreams and your young men shall see visions”(2:28). Much remains to be done in this coming year that we already know about but let’s pray for inspiration, remembering we have a spiritual contribution to make to our wider community, as well as ourselves. There are areas that are right for development but need passionate teamwork. So let’s share our visions but still try to keep the whole elephant in mind.