Parish Magazine Article -September 2021

 

“We are creatures of habit, especially in matters of faith and worship.”


September is often the month when refreshed by our summer holidays, we hit the ground running. Given that most of us left full time education a while ago, it is slightly odd that September still feels like a sort of new year. These patterns can become entrenched.  We do things habitually, even though the reason we started doing them that way has long since passed.  The Mothers Union in my curacy church refused to meet at any other time than 2:00 pm in the afternoon.  Given that most were over 80, the reason that they had to leave at 3:00 pm was to pick the children up from school, it all seemed rather curious.

We are creatures of habit, especially in matters of faith and worship.  That applies whether we love the BCP or singing modern worship songs.  We find what works for us and hold on to it tightly.   Words from the Old Testament Prophet Isaiah that God is ‘doing a new thing! Now it springs up, do you not perceive it,” can cut little ice. But God’s new thing is always rooted in his past dealings with us.  He doesn’t change, but our context and culture does.  If he encourages us to change, it is not for the sake of novelty, but to ensure that the timeless message of the Gospel can be heard afresh by each new generation. The glory of the church is that it looks very different according to the culture in which it is placed.  Our Tanzanian friends have different churches to ours, as do our friends in Nuremberg. Our challenge, as we look forward, is that our church (the Church of England) is by and large perfectly designed to minister to a culture that no longer exists.  What we need to become to be the Church that fruitfully ministers to our contemporaries is something else, it is a journey we embark on together.  We seek to discern God’s guidance, but it is a road we must travel.

+Richard