Hallo again to all.
Lent is upon us! Where did the time go? It seems that Advent was only last week and suddenly, here it is Ash Wednesday.
We've been thinking, as Lent approaches, about the fundamental values and priorities of our church. In a way, that's what we do here at Anglicans Online: we aren't the church, but we write about it. Last year we wrote two weeks in a row (1 September and 8 September) about faith and religion outside the church. This week we find ourselves musing about the people who work and preach and evangelise outside the church.
Several unrelated recent events led to this thinking. A dear friend, theological-college graduate and an experienced Christian Education Director, is leaving a post in a parish church to become a paralegal, so that she will have more time and energy to devote to her true vocation: teaching Christianity. Another friend, unemployed for more than a year after years as a church employee, is about to give up on her search for a church job. Another friend has just been turned down for postulancy by the organisation in his diocese that determines such things, so he must now figure out what to do with his life without giving up his dreams of serving the church. The Bishop of Rhode Island recently took leave from her diocesan job to spend some weeks living in the streets and in homeless shelters. And, come to think of it, we at Anglicans Online couldn't find the time to publish this every week if we weren't so certain that our work here was valuable to our church.
In most parts of the Anglican world, social services that were historically provided by the church are now provided by the government. Much of what was once the church has diffused into the culture. Should parts of the church follow it, as Rhode Island's Bishop Wolf did?
Much noise is made about the demise of the church, about the 'post-Christian' world. And within the Christian world, some leaders are insisting that unless the entire church changes in one way or another (usually the demands are to become less inclusive), that the church will die. But last month a survey showed that almost three quarters of the residents of Britain call themselves Christian; similar surveys in other Anglican countries had similar results.
It's obvious that many people who consider themselves Christian are not being served by today's church or music or liturgy. We need to think long and hard about what to do about that, since there is no substitute for corporate worship, for the gathering of the Body of Christ. But we have no patience with those who shout that the way to save the church is to make it more narrow, more bigoted, less inclusive.
This week we are starting to believe that the way to ‘save the church’ is to do it yourself, one person at a time. You are part of the Body of Christ. You are part of the church. Whoever you are, whatever you do, shouldn’t you try a little harder to show the world that you are a Christian and to try to teach those round you what that means? Technologist, nurse, chef, hairdresser, paralegal, copy editor, telephone installer, blacksmith, flight attendant, or bus driver: if you can share the Good News with one more person a year, then you'll be part of the salvation of the church.
And what a worthy Lenten discipline that would be!
See you next week.
updated: 2 March 2003
cribbed this paragraph from one of our Lenten
Resources; see if you can find which one. They
are all worth reading.
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