I found this video on Youtube recently and wanted to share it with you all…
The video talks about Gordon, a former cabinet maker who found his career ending because of our changing tastes. Our need for a fast, cheap, disposable lifestyle left Gordon without employment and forced onto the streets.
The Salvation Army recently changed the name of their hostels to lifehouses, and I grumbled at the cost of coming up with such a name (I’m a Yorkshire lass who calls a spade a spade). I still don’t think much to the name, but I’m glad we have some places left where homeless people can find their feet.
Although my dissertation and much of my research is on spirituality and textiles, as a lover of the ‘old’ ways and crafts I found this video truly wonderful.
A perfect example of how craft skills can be used for good and for the church. Gordon now volunteers (it’s a shame his unique skills couldn’t end in paid work) at a Salvation Army charity shop in Glasgow.
Then again, is his amazing painting skills, and the willingness for the charity shop to hold a mini gallery.
The real beauty though, is in people putting Gordon’s skills and opportunities together. That’s where the real magic happens.
There seems to be a lack of connection between people and skills, especially in the church. I expect many people are nodding their heads at this, and perhaps some nodding in annoyance feeling unused. (Grrrr, no one ever asks me to take the collection!)
The bitterness of attending a church and feeling as though you have no part to play is soul destroying and maybe even a large part in people feeling church isn’t for them anymore.
The old saying, ‘use me or lose me’ comes to mind.
I want to ask who’s fault is it? but I suspect the ‘blame’ is more a lack of confidence for most of us. We might sit there seeing a void and knowing we could fill it, yet we don’t have the confidence to put ourselves forward.
Some time ago church had a trend of getting folks to complete forms to find out where our gifts lay. Like a cosmopolitan quiz finding your ideal partner, the church quiz decided whether we were a hostess, preacher, listener or one of the dozen other skills the Bible lists. The church then could use the results to funnel it’s congregation into the relevant vacant position. The end hope was that everyone had a place in church and a role that suited their abilities.
It all sounded great, until you look at your individual church and realise what works in one, won’t work in another, besides, they didn’t need a social media guru back then. I always thought a better idea would be for everyone in the church to hand in their CV’s, probably the only document where we are confident enough to be honest (and perhaps boastful).
I think about people like my nephew who studied sound recording at university, yet was never asked to work the sound desk at church. What better option than someone with a degree in the subject?
I wonder whether giving him a job he was good at and enjoyed might have encouraged him to keep turning up on Sundays.
And yet, did the church know? Did they realise they had a professional in their midst?
The Bible says we shouldn’t hide our light under a bushel (Matthew 5:15) but that’s exactly what we do. Our confidence has been knocked by the world (and sometimes the church) and it’s not easy to raise ourselves up and point out our abilities.
We are in need of those miracle people who have the vision to stand in the gap between our ability and the churches need.
That person in Glasgow who figured out Gordon’s skills were just what was needed in the charity shop, that shop worker who spotted his talent as an artist and realised he needed an exhibition.
These are the miracles that bring a man back on his feet, the opportunities that can only be seen by visionaries.
So what next for Gordon?
Perhaps he could design and build a mercy seat that helped disabled people to approach without the option of sitting on it and facing the congregation?
Maybe he could be used to design the facilities at some of the new lifehouses, with his personal experience and craftsmanship.
I’m looking forward to finding out.