Four Way Faith Part Four - Out: Our Obligations to Our Neighbours. When someone cries out “I can’t breathe” we are called to listen, to learn and to be the ones who play our part in bringing freedom and life where there is suffocation and death. This applies across race, gender, age, sex, disability, martial or civil partnership status, sexual orientation, religion or belief, pregnancy and maternity. We must stand alongside those whose voice gets shut out and until justice rolls down like water and righteousness life an ever-flowing stream (Amos 5:24) we must not stay silent because there can be no peace where there is no justice.
Four Way Faith Part Three - Out: God's Gift of Neighbours. We must follow Jesus’ example with Zacchaeus to accept the hospitality of those who different from ourselves, who others look down upon and speak ill of, even those who cause harm to others. Through accepting the gift of others we break down barriers and our lives, others lives and the kingdom of God benefit. When new people move into the houses, streets and towns around us (even our churches) it can be tempting to complain about change, to reflect on the way things used to be, or the people we used to see. Our challenge as Christian’s is to have the view of seeing the outsiders, the others, our neighbours as gifts, welcoming and accepting the gift they are and the gifts they bring.
There is a fairly common expression of Christian relationships that speaks of three dimensions - Up to God, In to the church, and Out to the unbelieving world. I think this provides a useful summary of Christian community which I hope to unpack in future posts; but I have come to realise at least one axis is missing.
I know it could sound either big headed or like a pipe dream, I mean who really believes they can change the world? I say I believe in the all creating, powerful, mysterious God and that I love adventure but then I play it safe. I want to learn how to take real steps of faith to live out my faith in such a way that my world is changed and therefore the world for others is somehow better.
Do you remember science classes in high school? Other than Bunsen burners and the Van der Graff Generator, me neither! One thing that you learn in biology is about life. All living things apparently have 7 life processes that indicate that they are in fact living. Perhaps you recall MRS NERG... (Movement, Respiration, Sensitivity, Nuitrition, … Continue reading A Vision for Church: Journeying
My wife and I enjoy making up stories about people. We might be out for coffee, sitting on a train or walking through town. Just based on what someone is wearing or how they present themselves we imagine a whole back story to their life, relationships they have or don't have, and what they are … Continue reading A Vision for Church: Listening
'In the beginning God created...' (Genesis 1:1) How did the church become so bland? Look at historic church buildings and they are incredibly intricate, ornate and beautiful. People will travel for miles simply to visit a church building because the architecture and the art are incredible. Over the years the church has influenced music, not … Continue reading A Vision for Church: Creative
In a conversation recently a fellow pastor seemed to be interested in some of the things I was saying about racial, disability and gender justice. He asked to take my details so we could arrange to meet in order for him to learn more about the 'justice agenda'. Of course I am more than happy … Continue reading A Vision for Church: Just
When I sat down to write about the church being hopeful and offering hope I had in mind to write about being a resurrected people, living with the faith that despite the darkest of times we face we live in the hope that resurrected life is just around the corner. I come to this but … Continue reading A Vision for Church: Hopeful
About six months after my wife and I married I was diagnosed with depression. I have been known to make the rather obvious joke about the cause of my depression being married life, in reality this couldn't be further from the truth. I likely suffered with depression for years before I ever met my wife. … Continue reading A Vision for Church: Liberating