Quarterly Letter - March 2017
Lent will have begun by the time you read this, and in the Church we will have started to think about current issues facing Christians, the subject of our Lent Course. Topics for discussion include the environment, the work place, inclusion and healing/wholeness. Any one is welcome; they all take place at 8pm at St Mary's House on the Wednesday evenings through Lent.
One thing that sometimes surprises people is the realization that the active arena for God is all of life, not just the 'religious' aspect. In the West since the Enlightenment, we have almost successfully reduced God to the private sphere - 'it's okay if you want to practise your faith, but don't apply it in public' is a common view. That the Christian faith might have deep resources to answer questions about identity and how we live in the world sometimes doesn't occur to people. It is perhaps to the Church's shame that people who identify as 'spiritual but not religious' often think of the Church as the very last place to go for nurture.
Then again, 'personal spirituality' is a bit of an anathema in the Church because our challenge is to live in community and follow Jesus together, not separately from each other. That's why the body has been used as a metaphor for the Church - each member takes their place, whether as a hand, an eye or a leg (to continue the metaphor). To people who say "I believe but I don't go to church", I would say: the body feels incomplete without you.
Our church has recently joined a process of finding out what we are called to be and to do - the initiative is called Partnership for Missional Church and involves listening to God, exploring our faith stories and finding partners in the community to work for the common good. If you'd like to know more, send me an email. Ethnography is the study of peoples and their cultural practices, and part of the process will involve asking questions of people who go to church frequently, less frequently, or perhaps only once a year, to find out more about how we can be a more engaged church, and a church that takes risks in order to join in with the wind of the Spirit.
Watch this space!
And during Lent, may we know a fresh stirring in our spirit and a fresh direction for our life.
Revd. Claire Alcock