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The Ven Dr Rachel Mann - 25/02/2024

The Ven Dr Rachel Mann, Archdeacon of Salford and Bolton, shares a Thought For The Week on BBC Radio 4 - 25/02/2024

People say all sorts of things to me after a Sunday service, not all of which can be repeated on radio. Last week, as I was shaking hands after Holy Communion, someone came up to me and said, with a grin on their face, ‘You should be on the stage, you should.’

I saw his point, and replied, ‘You’re not the first person to say that.’ I like a bit of drama when I lead worship. There is a strong theatrical streak within me. For example, I like to preach without notes. Sometimes it feels like I’m walking a tightrope, aware that if I forget my script, I will fall badly, and the sermon will fall flat. I still do it, though, not least because it feels natural, and I want congregations to have a sense of freshness when it comes to worshipping God.

I am also the first to admit that I am a bit of a show-off. I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. We all have different personalities, and show-offs can be entertaining. The world would be a sadder place without performers. I remind myself that God doesn’t want everyone to fit into a neat box of approved personalities.

Mind you, Lent is the season that gives me pause for thought. It reminds me that one of the temptations Jesus faced was to be a spectacular show-off. In the desert he was tempted by the devil to dive off the highest point in Jerusalem just to prove that God’s angels would sweep in and save him. Jesus managed to resist this temptation to put showy behaviour before consistent, loving-kindness. He reminds me, then, that while flashy and showy behaviour can be attention-grabbing for a moment, it is no substitute for the steady and solid life of love and generosity. 

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