Monday, July 8, 2013

The Matai Phenomenon

The kids at “B@TCH” are developing a B@tCH vocabulary. It has been growing for a number of years.

I was recently talking to the kids about the word for that week which was compassion. We decided that passion was ‘to care a lot’ and that com came from the Latin ‘with’. We agreed that to have compassion for someone was more than caring a lot but that it required us to be with them, i.e. to stand with and care etc. 

Earlier I had “planted” Sarah Paterson on the stage . Sarah was sitting quietly all alone with a sad face (she did it well). I pretended to suddenly notice her and asked the children how they thought she was feeling. They responded appropriately. I then reminded them if we were to help cheer her up and be compassionate toward her then we needed to ????? Yes that’s right, be ‘with’ her. So I asked for folks to come with me on to the stage to stand with Sarah. No one came. So I went alone. Then out the corner of my eye I spotted wee Matai. He ran towards Sarah (whom he didn’t know) and threw his arms around her. She couldn’t help but smile. He climbed up on her knee. I couldn’t have set it up or staged it better. There was nothing I could say. He naturally displayed compassion for a sad Sarah. 

So what? Later that day while I was still on cloud 9, excited about what I was now calling the Matai phenomenon, a dear friend brought me back to earth with a thud. She said “in an ideal world we would do just as Matai modelled. But our un-childlike, ‘developed’ and somewhat sceptical selves, knowing we should rush to ‘stand beside’, get reminded of the cost.” 

Thoughts emerge like:

• If I stand beside them, will it be a life sentence?

• I don’t really know this person, what would they think?

• Who am I to think I could make a difference, someone else will sort it?

• They are not my type. 

• I’m too busy. 

We can learn so much from kids. That’s why they should be in the church service with us as much as possible. Jesus knew that and He preached it. 

This left me wondering though, are there any “Matai adults” in our parish - folks not hung up on the bullet points above? As I pondered with my friend we began to think of many. They are a real blessing to us all. So whether or not you are one of them or indeed you are a bit like me and hung up on the list above, may we all seek to embrace the Matai phenomenon and learn to care a lot by standing ‘with’ those whom God places in our paths. 

Barry Kelk
B@TCH stands for Breakfast at the Coronation Hall. B@TCH was started as a “Fresh Expression” of church 8 years ago by Barry Kelk of Highgate Presbyterian. B@TCH is an intergenerational, contemporary, weekly worship service.


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