Week 3: Expectations #BigRead12 #Koinonia


We talked about positive experiences from childhood that have impacted on us in the modern day. Mary’s time in school grounds led to taking up her role in Learning Through Landscapes. Bex, as a ‘new action’, was re-inspired to start preparing for the Great South Run, with a phone call from the NSPCC, although have been tempted to give up. With recent bad weather, we talked about our interactions with or neighbours, and for one of the group, taking up the challenge from our large church to re-engage in smaller local churches.


Expectations of the Church. We talked about the differences between inside/outside – e.g. the new church is old style outside, but inside is plain with a sense of peace and tranquility (until bring the children in!). If such a church brings in new people, how does that alter the style of worship already occurring. We learn what’s acceptable: dress codes, timing, whether it’s going to be like a library (shhh). We say we like time to think, but many tend to go to family style services. What do pews do for comfort/attention?  Do we prefer chairs, with space to move? We talked about what makes for a  welcoming church – Bex spoke about her experience of visiting a church in Sydney which made her feel particularly welcome (and runs regular welcoming training). The expectation many may have is that church will be full of older, snooty, people, but are pleased to find acceptance, especially with their kids. Christ Church Winchester is friendly, but it’s so big, it’s easy to get lost. What behaviour don’t we accept, e.g. any differences such as shouting in church is frowned upon! A Housegroup that cares in difficult times is important.

Video: Trailer for Charles Dickens: Great Expectations. We talked about the relevance of everything, and enjoying the range of “not particularly obvious” videos.  We talked about the possibility of the website offering voting options – e.g. offer vote for favourite quote of the week.

Tom Wright Video: Talked about disentangling fairy lights and how within these Bible verses we’ve entangled 2 issues. The issue of cleanness & uncleanness led to strict purity laws, which were a sign of Jewish identity. The Jews, however, had developed all kinds of extra teachings on top of the Bible. Jesus addresses the 2 issues together. Asked Jesus & he explained. Clean hearts are God’s expectations of what we should be.

Reading Lips say one thing, hearts another. Are teaching human subjects, rather than Godly teaching. Unclean hands indicated sick, but the handwashing became more of a performance, which took over from its original function.

Brigitte Tetteh Extreme rules developed to reach a fitness goal. Hours addicted to body beautiful. Lost site of original goal. What rules have taken you away from God??The notion of people having particular seats resonated! Gives a bad impression for visitors, who find this unwelcoming.


1. What rules do you live by?

We talked about the rules that we live by. First thing we said – as we had reached that point – is we must eat pudding… and enjoy it! We then thought about fitness habits we tend to have (whether consciously or not): Drink lots water. Eat 5 fruit a day. Go gym 3 times week. Sleeping habits. Other rules include spiritual rules – Bible every day (see sermon from Lansdowne Baptist Church) Laws of the land. Sporting rules.

2. How can living by rules draw us nearer to God?

Living by rules, spiritual disciplines, tend to bring us closer to God. How many of us do what can ‘get away with’ rather than as much as possible? There’s a danger when rules get in the way, but it can encourage us into good habits which mean we listen via prayer etc …

We noted that we enjoy each others company, we have lots of laughter. We don’t think we’re a particularly rule-abiding Housegroup.

3. In what ways is important is it for Christians to be set apart?

We noted that the question pre-supposes that we should be. Is it controversial or in the Bible? Reflect God in your every day. People should see something different in you. Be careful that you’re not so heavenly that you’re of no earthly use. Be part of community but be different.  We talked about house/work shares where colleagues have apologized for swearing. If we do ever swear, has a lot of impact.

Do we set ourselves apart or others set us apart? Swearing may not be the best example, it’s a question of respect. Are these the issues that people care about? But ‘taking God’s name in vain’ is one of 10 commandments (though we noted are plenty of other swear words). What does it look like to be set apart? Should be affected by our faith but not ‘go too far’? When it’s positive, it’s not what we do/don’t do, but an attitude/the motivation for why we do things.  Are we ever set apart in a bad way?

4. Which do you prefer: the gospel or grace or the gospel of law, and why?

What’s the most important thing in this passage?

We all immediately said Grace! Jesus told us laws no longer required. We think we should, however, follow earthly laws: The 10 commandments. Petty laws are a pain, but it’s much easier to fulfill the law and tick things off.

Hot Pudding

Is it ok to break rules, and which? A lot of Old Testament rules are negated by Jesus but lots that culturally are less appropriate for this culture (talked about growing up in Brethren church where emphasis seemed to be on hat/skirt). Can be difficult to think what are the unwritten rules that we live by. What’s ‘normal’ for other countries seems strange to us – E.g. in the USA – dating is more structured, and a very different experience from in the UK.

Some won’t even talk about a topic – e.g. gambling, as if by not discussing it, it doesn’t exist. We then got into a discussion of the National Lottery & its long odds!!

Cold Pudding

We talked about the Guardian story re the 5 regrets of the dying, which is topped by working too much.

Our rules? Sleep like a baby, enjoy your family/friends – spend time with them(when in good mood?) – relax – listen/watch & go to Greenbelt. Talked about why we love to go to Greenbelt, including the range of speakers. It’s like Glastonbury for Christians. We like being together at it.

After Dinner Chocs:

We plan to make a special effect to tell someone thank you, with one member wanted to make more effort to read the Bible (now has access on his smartphone).

About drbexl

Life Explorer, academia/learning, Christian, cultural history, WW2 posters: Keep Calm & Carry On, digital world, coach. Twitter: @drbexl @digitalfprint, @ww2poster @bigbible