The over-50s have seen busy churches, well supported and at the heart of communities large and small. Those in their 20s and 30s have been used to less church buildings around and accepting that former churches have been changed into anything from nightclubs to carpet stores.
All this time, centres and groups have been created to deal with stress, strain and nervous breakdown within our society. I wonder if there is a correlation? The diminution of another.
Could there be a balancing of what Jesus wants the church to be as we create foodbanks, cafés, drop-in centres and opportunities to listen and to pray for people? I believe so.
We have an early Celtic church tradition that God was in everything, everything in nature and in community, beautiful shores, hills, villages, towns, my home and your home, all places where God comes to be with us.
Jesus is known as The Word and in John’s Gospel we read: “In the beginning the Word already existed. He was with God, and he was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 He created everything there is. Nothing exists that he didn’t make. 4 Life itself was in him, and this life gives light to everyone. 5 The light shines through the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.”
So it’s not about buildings; it never has been. Because The Bible tells us God dwelt with his people and Jesus made that a very personal thing. So if it isn’t about church buildings, what is it about? I believe it’s about faith and our need to seek it out and to grow in it.
Mazx Lucado tells of the story of a wee boy who fell out of bed. When his mum asked him what happened, he answered: “I don’t know. I guess I stayed too close to where I got in.” I think that, perhaps, it’s easy to do the same with our faith. It’s tempting just to stay where we got in and never move. Trouble is , that gets us nowhere!
If you consider yourself to be a Christian, pick a time in the not-too-distant past. A year or two ago. Now ask yourself a few questions.
How does your prayer life today compare with then? How about your giving? Have both the amount and the joy increased? What about your church loyalty? Can you tell you’ve grown? And Bible study, are you learning to learn? If you are or aren’t a Christian but not quite knowing why it is you are discontent, don’t make the mistake of the boy. Don’t stay too close to where you got in. It’s risky resting on the edge. Look for The Light.
The Celtic church had a great love of light as a symbol. St Patrick lit the fire at Tara to show the light of Christ conquered the darkness and triumphed over death.
The druids warned the king that, if he didn’t have this fire extinguished, it would burn forever in Ireland. At St Brigid’s monastery, the flame was never allowed to go out and it’s said it burned for over 1000 years – a sign that Christ is the light of the world.
Are you in a dark place, or living in a shadow?
An ancient Celtic prayer says: The Lord is my light and Salvation The Lord is the strength of my life In Jesus there is light and strength.