Co-operation instead of competition

The Rev Richard Baxter, Kennoway, Windygates & Balgonie: St Kenneth's
The Rev Richard Baxter, Kennoway, Windygates & Balgonie: St Kenneth's

Recently, I took part in Leven Amateur Musical Association’s annual show, which this year was ‘Oklahoma’ (if you were in the audience, I was to be spotted briefly near the back as third cowboy from the left).

Like most musicals, ‘Oklahoma’ offers more in music than in story. However, the storyline includes the need, in what were then frontier territories, for the cowboys herding cattle over wide open ranges and farmers wanting to enclose land for crops to get along with each other.

The farmer and the cowman should be friends, as the song says.

The need for people who have similarities and differences to work together is as strong now as it was back in those frontier days.

Plenty of everyday situations could be improved if those with different backgrounds and priorities found ways to co-operate, instead of working in competition.

Imagine the potential, for example, if our political leaders were more concerned to work together in solving problems instead of worrying about scoring points off one another.

Of course, people in Christian churches really ought to practice what they preach, and we have to acknowledge plenty of historic mistakes in not co-operating with each other as well as we should have done.

But times are changing, and lessons are being learned.

A couple of weeks ago, I was privileged to be part a special church service as a new minister was ordained.

It might seem there is nothing unusual in that. However the minister, Amanda Quick, was being ordained as assistant at Leven Baptist Church, yet the people taking part came not only from various Baptist churches but also from several local Church of Scotland congregations and the Scottish Episcopal Church too (and perhaps there were others I didn’t spot).

You don’t have to go too far back to find a time when that sort of co-operation just wouldn’t have happened. All of us have learned we achieve far more working together than we ever could by staying in our own corners.

People from various backgrounds working together can make a real difference to their communities.

The development of Levenmouth Foodbank, organised by people from a range of churches and supported by the goodwill and generosity of the wider community, is a good example of that.

Another good example will arise in a few weeks time.

People from many local churches will meet together to mark Good Friday, walking from Buckhaven to Leven High Street carrying a large cross, as a reminder of the act which changes and inspires all of us, Christ’s death and resurrection.

Easter is about reconciling us with God but it’s also about learning to live together with all our similarities and differences.

Wouldn’t it be good if we could all learn to do that little bit more to co-operate with those around us?