It was good to be in St Andrew’s Church in St Andrews this morning. Like Moses heading for the Promised Land, the Rector, David Wilson, is leading his people towards a place of light and warmth – they are almost ready to turn on the new lighting system which will make the church bright but will also allow all sorts of variations of mood and atmosphere. And it will be very energy-saving and green. The new heating system is already in operation and the church was warm – the recent cold winters have been a considerable trial for the congregation.
They’ve been making progress too with Casting the Net. Why wouldn’t they when the suggestion of the name came from Richard Evans, one of the clergy team and the organist? I played around a bit with ideas of form and function – whether in congregations or IPads. I also hinted at what has been our experience with Mission Action Planning across the diocese. Sometimes it seems to make things easier. But sometimes it makes them harder because it challenges ‘how things are’ and encourages clergy and people to reassess all sorts of things – expections about relationships and leadership. When that happens, it seems to me that Casting the Net is fulfilling its purpose and function.
So pleased to see the final paragraph in your address to the folk at St Andrew’s. You may cast the net as many times and in as many directions as you like but if the death and resurrection of Christ is not at the heart of the proclamation and life of the Church you will be casting in vain. You might get people into your buildings but it is doubtful you will bring them into the Church.
I am not sure, however, that the message of Christ’s triumph over sin and death adds to ‘our attractiveness.’ If anything it is the opposite. That which was ‘foolishness to those who are perishing’ remains just that, but it is only through the preaching of that foolishness that God saves those who believe (1 Cor 1:18-31). We are inclined to preach all sorts of things which might accommodate non-believers, it is only the gospel of ‘Christ and him crucified’ that will transform them and equip them, in turn, to take that gospel to others.
Keep it up!
Hi Kym – hope all is well with you. Attractiveness in the sense of ‘drawing power’ – not tinsel and glitter? Lifted up?
All is well, thanks, incredibly busy but wonderfully well!
It would never occur to me that the cross would make us attractive as some kind of decoration. But as a ‘drawing power’ – even with the resurrection – the cross does not add to our attractivenes. Back to 1 Cor 1:23 ‘Christ crucified (is) a stumbling block (scandal) to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles,’ always has been always will be. The cross will never make us attractive to the world but it is the only word God has given us to proclaim which, when the Spirit applies it to hearts and minds and consciences of our hearers, brings liberation and transformation – new creation. Sure there are many things to talk about in the whole counsel of God (and not a few outside of it), but transformation and liberation are only via this ‘foolishness’ we are called to proclaim. Not to proclaim it might not prevent some from entering but a dynamic entrance and dynamic ongoing life of faith will only come, I suspect, through the word and power of the cross.
It seems to me that we are often guilty of wanting to be acceptable/appealing to the world and so we avoid preaching the cross. We no longer trust the gospel as it was given to us and so we no longer trust the God of the gospel. We cannot expect God to bless our endeavours as long as this is so.
I think that’s enough from me.
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