Friday, 18 March 2011

Golden Oldies

I reflect sometimes on things that people remember well and the things that we are constantly changing. Does each church reflect one culture as it incorporates new things or do they reflect a wide range?

A book I read a little while ago "Re-Emerging Church" suggests that there is a time window of opportunity for the church, related to the baby-boomer generation (born 1946-1964). As they are starting to retire and look back at familiar things of their childhood, one such is church because many went to Sunday school and are looking for familiar, comforting things. However when they drop by the local church often it does not resemble anything that they recognise. Modern hymns, casual dress code, changed or no liturgy etc. all of the things that they recall gone with the result that many don't go back again. A chance to re-engage with them and to possibly lead them to faith rather than comfort, lost.

When I think about it, given that I am a mid-generation boomer who didn't go to church as a child, my heart does respond when I hear some of those old hymns and tunes. Recently at music practice in church, my wife came out with a classic song and it started a session of singing some of those wonderful old hymns that left us exhilarated.

Thats is not to say that I don't love to sing the modern songs, although some, like some of the old ones really should have been binned at birth! But perhaps the point is that we should not make church to be how we like it and forget that others may find comfort in some of the old familiar things that we have tried to put out.

There is something profound and comforting, not to say challenging about understanding the Lord's Prayer when we say it or when the Creeds of the church are spoken out together or when we sing the verses of a well penned, easy to sing Hymn. After all they were written to remind us of the great truths of our faith.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Fun loving folks

I was at a party at the church hall earlier at which were a number of the church as well as many others. We were together celebrating a church members birthday. It struck me, looking around the room, that in this setting there was no difference between those from the church and those who were not. We were all having fun, children, teens and adults.

Sometimes it is thought that becoming a Christian means that we need to give up fun, parties, dancing and such. I think it means something much more profound - the joy we have in Christ should show through in our everyday lives.

I could say that Jesus' first miracle was turning water into wine, but somehow that doesn't really fit, there was no wine or other alcohol at the party and yet a lot of fun was had. I could say we are meant to have life abundantly - but I think that has more to do with spiritual blessings in this life and with eternal life.

It had to do, I think, with Spicing the party with a certain quality - folks from the church put the thing together, made much of the food, served it, cleared up, had fun dancing and chatting.

Church at its best is perhaps Christs people, being who they are, where-ever they are. Tomorrow we will be in church worshiping God in a more recognisable way and we will still be fun loving folks. People who love God, love each other and love our neighbours.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Lazy Journalism or Salt and Light?

I have a confession to make ... This week I reacted to something in the press which many other Christians had already responded to, believing that what I had read was true and putting aside one of my life traits of trying to find out both sides of things before making any decision on the "truth".

The case of the couple which led to the headlines, stated that a High Court judgment had decreed that there was no place in law for Christian views. I commented on this article in the Telegraph on their web site. Later in the week I read another article which exposed this as "lazy journalism" - not reporting what had actually been decreed.

This week also saw a web frenzy of "Christians" hammering Rob Bell and his soon to be released book Love Wins. The bloggers, twitterers and others have concluded that Bell's new book shows that he is now preaching universalism. Given that most have not been able to read the book, cos its not released yet, many are relying on the reporting of those with advanced copies or the short video publicising the book. They may be right but then they could also be wrong and it might also be a great publicity exercise to sell lots of books.

That is not to say that Christians are not persecuted as the example we saw this week of the Pakistani Minister Sharaz Bhatti, who stood against the blasphemy laws in that country and died as a result, gave the world. Here we saw a life, the life we are called to live in faith no matter the cost, call attention to it.

What, I wonder, do the non Christians make of all of our arguing, getting it wrong, not checking our facts before we pronounce or jump onto something?

One blogger recently commented on the need for the church to re-engage with its community as it used to and the opportunities for this that the current cut-backs in government spending offer.

What the world needs to see is a Church that gets on with transforming the communities in which it is; winning folks hearts and minds by its faith in action rather than spending its resources fighting court cases and producing millions of wasted moments reacting to news paper articles and potential publicity stunts. As James reminds us, the truth of our faith is shown in the action that results from it.

If we did more of this and less fighting among ourselves, if we did more of this and spent less time commenting on incorrect articles which seem to exaggerate differences, just maybe the salt and light we are, would have more impact and cause others to recognise the values and standards that Christ expects his people to show in the world.