Christian Comments, March 2017

The other day I attended a wonderful service at Winchester Cathedral at which the new Dean was Installed. I love the Cathedral and its worship. There is something about it that sort of floats my boat – I am very passionate about our Cathedral and the mission it serves to the county.
By a sort of accident however, I ended up taking my daughter’s boyfriend along with me to this service. It’s a long story, so I will not explain. At the end of the service, which was quite long, he told me that he had never actually heard a Cathedral choir before, and found the music amazing; and the spectacle of the installation thought-provoking. He then went on to ask ‘who was the fellow with the big stick’? He was referring to the Bishop of Winchester, his description only mildly less dubious than enquiring about the fellow in the pointy hat.
I have been thinking a great deal recently about something this rather tellingly illustrates. My daughter’s boyfriend was not ill disposed towards the church. In fact he rather thought it all very compelling. He was not dismissive of the theological, ethical and cultural significance of Christianity – but he just didn’t know anything about it. ‘Who’s the guy with the big stick’, is nearly as glib as was reported to me recently – but might not be accurate – that David Beckham (the ex-footballer) had said that he wanted his children baptised, but hadn’t yet decided what religion.
Anyway, the point clearly being made is that the message of God’s love is a universal one. Many people understand their existence in relation to God – they are spiritually hungry and inquisitive – but the church has not for some unfathomable reason engaged them. Church has passed them by, yet their lives are full of need and desire, looking for meaning and answers. They have somehow missed the incarnational, inspirational empowering message of Christ. Why? I cry out – WHY!
Now that might need a little bit of unpacking – and in reality I do not have the answers – but here’s what I think. Christianity is not just a Sunday morning expedition in the realm of God, it is not something we leave behind when we step out into the world on Monday morning. It is the spring-board into the market places, the work places, the homes and shopping centres where prayer (especially prayer) and Christian presence can and will make a difference. A disciple that is a true follower of Christ, who is confident that God loves them, and us and the world, has the answers to all the questions and anxieties and despair anyone could possibly have – Christ is the answer to all our hungers, all our fears, all our anxieties.
We should see our faith as an adventure that is liberating and fulfilling. We need to encourage – especially the young – and nurture the tradition we have inherited. We need to tell those that have not heard, and invite them into the family of Christ – all of you tell someone about your faith, and tell them Jesus sent you.

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