Parish Magazine Article - April 2019
The comedian Jeremy Hardy died last month. His obituary noted that he came from a Church of England family. Jeremy Hardy himself wrote, “You can’t exactly lapse when you’re C of E. You don’t lose your faith; you just can’t remember where you left it.”
Not the most flattering comment on the Church of England, or on any other church for that matter. But I don’t react entirely negatively to it.
“You can’t exactly lapse when you’re C of E. You don’t lose your faith; you just can’t remember where you left it.”
For a start, that’s a reminder not to take ourselves too seriously and that’s always a good thing.
And then there are hints of the church just being there – both the building and the community focused on the building – a presence for everyone. The sort of setting where people can feel welcome when they just turn up; where they are not going to be judged for not having enough faith, or any faith at all; where it’s actually OK for people to be in church for whatever reason.
I believe it’s vital that churches are unconditionally welcoming to all.
But that’s emphatically not all there is to it. All the openness, all the welcome in the world is meaningless if it does not point beyond itself to the reality of God, who has made himself known in Jesus.
“ ……… Christ died for our sins,” wrote St Paul, “…….. he was buried, he was raised on the 3rd day ……. and he appeared to many.” “If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith ………. If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.”
So, if, like Jeremy Hardy, you can’t remember where you left your faith, or if you know others who have also forgotten, allow the events of Holy week, Good Friday and Easter to remind you.