We are in a season of training at the moment; we were trained handling heavy loads a few weeks ago and yesterday, we were learning about safeguarding. In a few weeks, we will be trained in first aid, and then in kitchen hygiene and food safety, and then.... after that, I think it might be fire safety, but I might be getting confused!
It all matters. We are caring for one another, and we are looking after our building, and ensuring that those who share our building - the many who come in and out during the week, for all sorts of purposes are well served and appropriately supported,
Mind you, it can all seem rather far removed from "being the church", from worship, prayer, service and fellowship.
But it's not. Not simply for the reasons I have listed above about why the particular trainings matter. But because training is part of being the church.
Paul's use of "sports training" metaphors is clear enough; the importance of self-discipline as a way of developing faith and practice, so that our lives match our words - and this is not something that is just going to happen, or will simply emerge, any more than I will understand safeguarding procedures without doing the reading, or make sense of fire safety without being shown. Our lives of faith need work, discipline and attention - and just as the training we have been doing is much more fun, and encouraging, when we do it in groups, so our faith lives benefit from being lived in community, from the trust and encouragement that we can offer one another.
And the community is a place of training in itself. Perhaps we could understand it as a workshop or laboratory; the place where we can experiment in how to do this thing called living well; living with grace and forgiveness towards one another, living non-violently, exploring mutual forgiveness and the letting go of power..... All of that is hard stuff, and so different from what we are taught and what we believe we need in all sorts of aspects of life.
And yet it is Kingdom life.
An where are we going to learn it, fail at it and get to try again, be with others who also strive for it, and hear the encouragement, the narratives and the possibility of living like this, if not in the community of faith?
I am fortunate; I like learning stuff. I am enjoying most of the training we are doing. And I hope and pray that week by week, day by day, prayer by prayer and conversation by conversation, I am also learning and teaching , training with my fellow believers in the life of the Kingdom; practising it, so I can live it more deeply in a world that does not yet recognise it.