May 2019

Going green

So Easter is now over. Yes, we have Ascension Day to look forward to along with then celebration of the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and the climax of our message of love on Trinity Sunday, but - let’s be honest - in our post-Christian society they have very little resonance, and people just impatiently wait until they can again start celebrating Christmas before Advent has even begun. 

But, for those of us who do attempt to keep the rumour of God alive, this is a crucially important time of the year. From Advent to Easter, we have been celebrating the birth, life, death and resurrection of Christ: from now until Advent, we celebrate the birth and the life of his church. And, no, it is not dead yet. In the early weeks , we hear a great deal from the Acts of the Apostles of how the church grew initially with exponential speed thanks to the transforming power that came upon Christ’s followers - female as well as male - which, in the light of the Holy Spirit, drew countless followers to join with them.

That is what the church is about now. It is about growth. It is never about standing still: it is never about a small cosy club allergic to newcomers. It is never about saying to people ‘ by all means come and join us if you like, but only on our terms: and don’t think of bringing a screaming brat with you.’

It is about being with people where they are and helping them to see how Christ’s love and forgiveness can transform their lives as well. And there are really encouraging signs of that happening here and now. The response to the Alpha courses has been really good: the readiness of lay people to be able to develop their skills in such things as leading worship, becoming pastoral visitors and helping to steer our various areas of mission within this areas has been terrific. I think we are living in exciting times which will - I hope - bear fruit in more people in different ways being able to live and express their faith: believe me, it is not all about coming to church on Sundays.

During this time, the liturgical colour worn during Communion services is green. It is a sign of growth. I hope that, for many of us, it is not just a sign but a reality.