Christian Viewpoint: Being full of goodness can only be a good thing in the Highlands
Get the Inverness Courier sent to your inbox every week and swipe through an exact replica of the day's newspaper
Most of the community groups Becky Wilson has previously been involved with have been campaigning against something.
In contrast, the GoodNESS project, of which she is the coordinator, is gloriously positive.
GoodNESS, run jointly by the Barn Church and King’s Church in Culloden, supports agencies already at work in the area, encourages church members to apply their skills for the benefit of the community, and explores innovative ways of celebrating goodness and joy.
The project has been enthusiastically welcomed.
A community fridge is opening; there are plans to create a garden where local people can meet and mingle; at Christmas, folk in the area knitted 300 cuddly bears for young children in nurseries and schools.
One focus of the project is bringing people of different ages together, and I, for one, was encouraged by my chat with Becky, who is 28 years old.
She brings to the project a considered Christian faith. As a teenager, she had deep questions about Christianity, and how it works in practice. She “wrangled” with these issues, facing them head-on in her years studying theology and philosophy.
Becky has a natural empathy and love for people, getting alongside those who are facing hard times, journeying with them as others journeyed with her when she was struggling. “I’ve always wanted to see a difference,” she says. She believes in the interconnectedness of society – we don’t flourish in isolation, but come alive fully only in relationships with other people. We need one another!
I asked Becky what Christian faith has to offer a 20-something in 2021. God, she tells me, offers “a consistent source of love and security”. God’s love is an “unrelenting love”, one which “won’t change regardless of where you run off to”. She believes God communicates through energy-giving “gut feelings”, the nudges she senses as she prays and reflects.
The language Becky uses to describe Christian faith, emphasising the lived experience of faith, and the validity of many ways of Christian worship, reminds me that people in each generation have God speaking to them through the concepts close to their hearts.
I could imagine a cynical reaction to the GoodNESS project. Is its aim simply to draw people to Christian faith? If conversations about Jesus arise naturally in the community through the connections GoodNESS creates, then of course those involved will describe what faith means to them. “Faith is the centre of my life,” says Becky. “GoodNESS dovetails with the Good News.”
But I am convinced that the project truly is celebrating goodness, regarding goodness as a worthwhile goal in itself, recognising that every act of goodness is prompted by God-given nudges, and that in working with others for the good of the community we are doing God’s work.