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September 2014

January 23, 2015

Thoughts From The Cottage

Dear Friends

As we celebrate the 157th Anniversary of our Church it seems a good time to reflect on what the church is. A good place to start is by reminding ourselves that according to Church tradition and teaching, Scripture and Jesus himself the Church is not a building. It is true that we call some buildings churches but we also have chapels, cathedrals, minsters, abbeys, temples, citadels and places of worship. All of these are places where the church meets. The church also meets in schools, clubs, public houses, homes, caves and in the open air. The building is a means to an end, not the end itself. It is often the place where worship, teaching, evangelisation, discipleship, nurturing, fellowship, social activity and church business meetings happen. The building maybe the centre of the church’s life but it is not it’s life.

Church tradition, teaching, Scripture and Jesus all agree that the church is a group of people who follow the teaching of Jesus and nowhere has it ever been defined where that group must meet. In 1928 Rubery Congregational Church sold its old buildings and moved into new premises, it was still Rubery Congregational Church. We could sell our building and meet in a school and we would still be the Beacon Church Centre. The important thing is not where we meet but who we are. At the Beacon we are very fortunate to be part of a caring, loving, thoughtful, compassionate church who really do care about one another. This is great but it is not all a church is. Jesus commissioned the Disciples to ‘go to all people everywhere and make them my disciples, baptize them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and teach them to obey everything I have commanded you.’ (Matt 28 vv 19/20)

So the primary tasks of the church are evangelisation and teaching. Every thing we do should be to further these ends or else we are not being a church. This raises the question of what Jesus taught. A quick romp through Matthew’s Gospel shows that the Church should be humble, desirous of doing what God requires, merciful, pure in heart and peace workers (5:5-9); obedient to the Law and the Prophets (5:17-20); lifelong marriage of a man to a woman or singleness (5:27-38 & 19:1-11); love those who hate you (5:45-48); help the needy (6:1-4); do not love possessions (6:19-34); do not judge others (7:1-6); obey Jesus (7:24-27); be missionaries (10:5-15); Jesus comes before family (10:34-39 & 19:28-30); learn from Jesus (11:28-30); speak and do good things (12;33-37); respect your parents (15:1-9); forget your self and follow Jesus (16:24-28); remove whatever causes you to sin (18:6-9); seek the lost (18:10-14); forgive everyone everything (18:21-35); treat all people equally (20:1-16); be the servant of all (20:20-28 & 23:1-12); love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind and love your neighbour as yourself (22:34-40): be always ready for the second coming (24:36-44); go to all people everywhere and make them my disciples, baptize them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and teach them to obey everything I have commanded you.’ (28:19/20). No wonder Gandhi said ‘the problem with Christianity is not that it has failed but that it has never really been tried.’

Have we the courage to really try to be church?

Ian

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