What is a Church?
Hello to you this week
Part Two This week I would like you to continue to work through these questions letting me know your thoughts to these questions – you can email me directly on firstname.lastname@example.org with your responses. They are based on the URC document “Ready for the “New Normal” and “The World Rebooted” by Tearfund. We would be most unwise to look to get back to “how we always do things.” This is, we pray, a once-in-a-lifetime chance to do things better. Some things, like meeting together, we will be glad to do after the Covid-19 lockdown is lifted, but let us be wise as to when and how and for what purposes we start to meet together again. There are some things that we should be glad that we don’t have to start again, or at least start them again the way that we used to do things – things that, “we’ve always done this way,” when nobody really remembers or understands why. The particular areas for which this applies will depend on your local context and according to your local means. What are those for you? How have you experienced this crisis? What have you found hardest? What have you appreciated, and where have you found new joy amidst the crisis? What have you learned about the world, your neighbourhood and local communities during this time? Every Christian and church is called to demonstrate God’s love to our neighbours, and to collaborate towards building flourishing communities, so that people may live ‘life in all abundance’ (John 10:10). Considering which part of God’s mission you might be being called to join in with, and what you have to offerWhat does God ask of us? As with all important questions, there are no quick, easy or set answers about what local churches, groups and individual Christians should do in their neighbourhood and communities in response to the current crisis. But it is abundantly clear that the mission to which God invites us is one which prioritises the needs of those who suffer most, especially in times of particular trial or challenge. The well-known question and answer call to action in Micah 6:8, ‘And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God’, highlights to us what God truly asks of us. In the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-12), Jesus reminds us of God’s strong feelings about the most vulnerable in society. This is further reinforced in Matthew 25:40 and 45, when Jesus tells his followers that ‘whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me’, and ‘whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me’. However, mission is not simply a task to be done by the so-called ‘privileged’ tothe so-called ‘vulnerable’. All are equal in the sight of God, all are called, and everyone has a contribution to offer. The disciples asked Jesus about when the kingdom he had promised would come. ‘He replied, “The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere.’ (Acts 1:7-8). In this, we see a God who is, quite literally, with us, not a distant leader, ordering us from above, but a friend, walking with us on the way, already engaged in mission and inviting us to join in with it. When Jesus urges us ‘to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age’ (Matt 28: 20), it is seen we are called to offer a continued presence of love, hope and justice for all people, in all times, in all places, as we seek to live the life of Jesus today. “Churches are called to prophetic witness, to proclaim and live out the vision of Jesus Christ of fullness of life for all creation…The mission context and God’s mandate of fullness of life for all creation demands a holistic understanding of mission.” (Vision statement of the Council for World Mission, of which the URC is a member) Questions for reflection and discussion: What do we see as our mission in this moment? As individuals, and as a church or group? Which stories and scriptural passages seem to have particular relevance? How can we mutually support each other in building God’s kingdom in our own, everyday situations and realities? Remember. We are the church, not the building. If your main focus as a Christian is on singing (or miming) on a Sunday morning in a church building you may need to review your understanding of Christianity.
This weeks YouTube link with songs for worship is available here https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLHnJn7EgQjAxZ87kVnlLLp2swDmslwZLU Have a blessed week Jacquey Next week we will start looking at "What is worship?"