Sometime ago I was speaking to a Christian who said they had moved church and did not want to get involved in the ‘politics of church’ but just wanted to go on a Sunday morning, worship God and come away. At the time I responded that I felt that was ok but the conversation prompted me to further reflect and I think my answer was wrong. I thought what would happen if everyone just decided that Church would be a place that they would just go to on a Sunday for worship and not be involved in the life of the church at any other time.
Well we would not have buildings and we couldn’t even just hire a hall for the Sunday service as no one would organise it. We would have no fellowship and no pastoral care, no children’s work, no involvement in any decisions which presumably would all be made by the minister[now there’s an awful thought]. There would be no groups for nurturing and teaching and we would have no ecumenical relations/activities and perhaps the most disturbing would be that we would have no mission. Indeed the conclusion would be that we were not church.
To just go to worship and not get involved in the life of the church could mean that we would be like the people in the parable of the sower who hear God’s word but do nothing about it. How can we read the Bible or sing the words of some of our hymns or listen to a sermon and not think that it needs a response from us as individuals and together as church?
As a balance to that conversation I spoke with another person who had heard a sermon in their church and believes that God was challenging them to volunteer to work in a charity who work with people on the edge of society. This person had prayerfully responded to God and found a place and went through the process of volunteering, fully appreciating that they had to commit to training and DBS and references.
These two stories feel like a modern day parable of different views and different responses to being a Christian. You can almost hear Jesus using it to explain to His disciples that they cannot just be faithful attendees at the Temple but they must go out into all the world sharing the good news and loving their neighbour.
…and what if the disciples had just gone to the temple and done nothing else, what if the Gospel writers had not written the Gospels but just gone to worship, what if Paul had simply turned to Christianity and just worshiped God? Well if they had you and I would not be Christians and we would have never heard the stories of Jesus from those who took time to share them with us and we would not have known about God’s love for us.
Next month we see the start of Lent which should be a time for reflection. This year we are having Lent fellowship groups in both Bilton and Knaresborough Churches which will provide a great opportunity for us to share fellowship together and reflect on our response to God’s presence in the world as we look at the Easter story together. I firmly believe that to develop any relationship you need to work at it to understand each other more and to grow in love and our relationship with Jesus is surely the most important one we have.
At my previous Pastorate we used quite a few of the York Courses for Lent groups and one year the material contained these quotes;
‘Am I just religious or am I a person of faith?’
Sr Elizabeth Obbard Carmelite Solitary
‘Most of us are fairly comfortable to be disciples – sitting at the Master’s feet and learning from him, even though the teaching itself can be tough. We are often less comfortable to be apostles or witnesses sharing our faith with others.’
Will this be just another reflection that you read and ignore or will you take action as you are able and join in these Lent Fellowship groups?
Your friend and servant