Timothy Radcliffe is a Dominican friar. He was educated at Oxford and Paris and went on to teach theology at Oxford. He wrote:
“The Church should be a community in which one discovers the delight of being ordinary, of belonging to each other. Bishops are called ‘ordinaries’ not because they are boring but because they are charged with cultivating a community in which we may learn how to belong together. In the eighteenth century the word was also used for people who delivered messages, the early equivalent of postmen, who were vital to the interchanges of the community.
“A hundred yards down the street in which I live there is a sign which says, ‘The world can be changed by ordinary people like you’. I am embarrassed to admit that I used to feel irritated every time I walked past that sign. How do they know that I am ordinary? For all that they know I might be a remarkable person. It seemed to me to be patronising. And yet the Church should be a community which summons one beyond the need to be a celebrity in order to matter and which frees one from the compulsion to claim the centre of the stage.
“We may learn the joy of ordinariness, not in the sense of being boring or undistinguished, but of being turned to face each other and receive life from each other.”
In the second session at our conference we looked at how we might seek to ‘Change the World’. It is not going to be by one giant leap but by one small step which is then possibly repeated over and over by us as individuals or by others joining with us. In that way we can each be someone who changes their community and its culture in such a way that, given time, might go on to change the world. If, as our speaker put it, we could each instigate a ‘one degree of change’ – that smile, that kind word, that helpful response where previously there might have been a stern face, a stunning silence, an ignoring – we might just start to change our world.
“Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colours in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16 (The Message)