Sunday, June 24, 2007

St John's-tide

This year our Parish Patronal Festival of the Nativity of St John the Baptist falls on a Sunday. Not that this meant an increase of attendance for us today. We were just over thirty adults plus half a dozen children - few visitors for our main service. The ancient rhythm of celebration and prayer no longer figures as a significant feature in the lives of visitors to our city, any more than it does for people who inhabit the city, who for want of commitment to a particular community, float around from church to church, if they don't stay home. How do we win their loyalty?

It's marvellous that there are still devoted core communities of people, like ours wanting to continue worship in the traditional liturgical cycle, who come every week and not just as and when they feel like it. I'm grateful to have such people to continue in prayer with around the year. How I wish there were more of them !

I never fail to be struck by the fine quality of scripture reading during our services. When I sit and listen to the Word being read, often the very reading stimulates new insights into passages read - lectio divina, by any other name I know. I hope other congregation members feel as blessed as I do by simply listening to Scripture. It's one of those core activities of an Anglican congregation, something we almost take for granted. Every reader, by their intelligent rendering of the text takes part in the exposition of the Word. I wonder how many listeners appreciate something so simple and so powerful, rather than just take it for granted that things are simply done well.

St John Baptist preparing the coming of Christ - however our church goes about it, that's our role too. And it's more and more complex and challenging to accomplish in the face of the powerful secularist movements of our time.

How do we persuade people to be aware of, and relate to the source of their being?

How do we persuade people that there is more to human life than is determined by experience of material existence?

How do we persuade people that considering their origins and destiny as human creatures is important and ultimately unavoidable?

How do we persuade people to listen to and learn from the story of Jesus?

These questions are ours. Working on them may help seekers to clear the ground for the Spirit to engage with them in searching out the truth of their own existence.

For the most part, we are working from ignorance or uncertainty.

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