I once had a beard and when I shaved it off, people looked at me very strangely (not for the first time), wondering there's something different, but what it is it? Apparently, Caravaggio presented Jesus beardless in this painting - wondering was this why Jesus was unrecognised on the road to Emmaus? I've seen this painting countless times, but only this week have I realised why it never 'seemed right' in my eyes. One of the lovely things about attending something like this Family Systems course is the rich variety of people you end up meeting. It's been good to catch up with Mike who I knew already, but I've also enjoyed chatting with Charles, a Catholic Priest, who's staying at the same place as me. Richard Blackburn was an Art Historian prior to his Ministry with the Lombard Mennonite Peace Centre in Chicago. He gave a few of us a tour round the National Gallery last night, which was, for me, a wonderful privilege. His particular specialism is Italian Renaissance art (I hope I've spelt that right!) and it was fascinating. I was still relieved to get to the impressionists, but I feel I understand a little more now of what has been a big mystery. We continued the theme at a little Italian Restaurant.
The issue of the primary importance of the maturity of the key leader in any organisation (of which the Church is one) being more important than issues of technique and issues of presence over 'know how' is what I'm grappling with today. I believed that already - what I'm trying to work out is how, as Baptists, we tend to submerge such understanding as we go in search of the next quick fix. (to what extent, for example, does our new emphasis upon competencies for ministry create a perception which equates to 'once I collect the competencies, I'm the expert'. I'm looking forward to our next series of "Imagine" beginning next week in WEBA - because this is one way in which we're experimenting with trying to root such things in local Church leadership. Next week we're looking at spirituality and local leadership. I'm also looking forward to Euro 2008. The fact that England aren't there may well add to my enjoyment on any nights off from a fairly hectic schedule coming up. I'll be supporting Fernando Torres and the boys from Spain, but Germany will probably go and win to really rub salt into the wounds of not qualifying.