Thursday, December 14, 2006

More 'Church-y reflections'

I may give the impression from my posts, and from many of my sermons which I post, that i believe the Church shouldn't be involved in the political world or that Christian faith is a personal affair. This is not the case.

In part my reluctance to be drawn into 'issues based Christianity' is because I believe that we can lose the dynamic, challenging aspect of being a Christian community and having a relationship with Jesus Christ if we become too bound up in the issues which threaten to divide us. I also think that the most authentic expression of Christian faith comes not from proclamations about moral or social issued but from Christian communities committed to the Gospel and living out the values of the kingdom (or reign) of God.

I believe that authentic faith is rooted in community, the fellowship of the Church, and we can only realise that when we are committed to one another in faith, love and service. So many of my sermons are calls to again consider our calling to live and act as Christians in fellowship with one another in order that we can make a difference in the world.

But I do believe that we are called to take our vote seriously, to be involved in the political world, to stand up for what we believe in. I believe the values of Christ's kingdom are ones of inclusion, peace, justice, faithfulness, holiness, and speaking out the word of God to the world in which we have been set. So I encourage those who are a part of our fellowships here to pray for our communities and the world, to visit the sick, to minister to the hurting, to be faithful in their business and personal relationships, to tell the story of faith and draw others into that story.

One of the reasons that my sermons may seem slightly detached is not that i want to separate the church and the world, but because i want those who hear to make connections for themselves and work out how they may be called to service, rather than me telling them how they are called. There are times as a minister when i believe i have the role of pointing out someone's gifting and call to a particular ministry, but that is usually a 'one to one' task.

I'm also aware of a huge amount of (for want of a better term) 'theological ignorance' - ie that people don't actually know what the church believes or has taught or reflected on over the past two thousand years, and i see part of my teaching ministry as seeking to redress that balance, albeit in a very small way, in my preaching.

All this reflection comes from reading back through a few older sermons and trying to think how they might come across to a congregation, and hoping that I am not just speaking vague, disconnected ideas which give the sense of faith and theology as being distinct from the 'real world', but bound up and integral to a whole life. I may not do this very well, but it is what i long to do.

1 comment:

Jeremy said...

I agree with your commitment to the spiritual and theological education of the communities you are part of. I think that contextual theology rather than diminishing Christian doctrine enhances it, by applying doctrine to a unique set of circumstances.

Of course every parishoner has a different context, demonstrating though how doctrine can lead to specificity in choices in one's context can only help illuminate truth.

Determining what those context specific choices must be for others is a mistake to be avoided; offering tools and examples for how to do it, how to go home and work out something new about how to live though, that's always a tremendous help although very challenging to succeed with from a pulpit.