One of the wonderful things about Zac's is that it is an open forum. Everyone is encouraged to take part, share their sometimes opposing views on what we're reading, and is listened to. That, as I say, is an unwritten rule - and a privilege - and usually it's respected as such. Not so last night.
Last night some occasional visitors abused that privilege and hijacked the study for their own purposes, which was largely to use it as a platform for their own agenda. I think it's safe to say they had no interest in the subject of the study (Abram, Sarai and Ishmael) but that didn't stop them finding ways ostensibly to ask questions while not being interested in the answers and, indeed, usually providing the answers themselves. To talk at length about whatever issue they could vaguely relate to the topic while staying far away from the story.
It's a powerful story and we lost it in the mayhem. There were so many things that could have come up and been questioned and discussed but even our normally vociferous were silenced in the face of such rudeness for that's what it was even if it were masquerading as a search for knowledge.
And finally it turned into obvious rudeness and then I had to speak up. Until then I'd mostly tuned out and was praying for a family who've just lost their wife and mother.
It was a good job I wasn't leading or I might have been unable to resist the urge to give the rude man a good slap. Sean, who was leading, is much more patient and gentle. When he finally managed to get a word in he made some excellent points about boundaries and relying on feelings but, unfortunately, they fell on deaf ears.
It's a very fine line between freedom of expression and abuse of privilege. At Zac's we err on the freedom side - which is a good thing - but sometimes it can be very frustrating.