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July 2015

February 16, 2016

Thoughts From The Cottage

Dear Friends

It has been said that the role of the church is to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable. Interestingly the same has been said of newspapers and politicians! Sadly in the 21st Century many newspapers and politicians play on people’s fears instead of challenging perceptions and misguided notions of right and wrong whilst the church is criticised when it speaks up on social issues. William Temple, Archbishop of Canterbury 1942-1944 famously said “The Church is the only society on earth that exists for the benefit of non-members.” Despite this being an obvious truism the 21st Century church is often largely preoccupied with the well-being of its members rather than that of those outside it.

In the church we regularly use the words
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your Name;
your kingdom come; your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us from temptation and deliver us from evil.
For yours is the kingdom, the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.
Amen.
In doing so we are committing to being agents of political and social change. God’s kingdom is a place of peace, hope and love where all are welcome. It was personified in the life of Jesus and we, as Christians, have accepted the call to walk in his footsteps. This means we have to think, speak and act like him. God’s kingdom is also a place where his will is made manifest unfettered by human foibles. In praying for our daily bread we are not simply asking that the world may be fed but that we may be satisfied with what we need for today and not store up for the future. Jesus had much to say on this. Just like Jesus the prayer also has an absolute measure of forgiveness and a commitment to resist temptation and flee from evil. This is not simply a personal prayer, it is a world changing one and by saying these words, in any version, we are committing ourselves to action.

The voice of Jesus and the will of God needs to be heard in every situation and although God can work through anyone, even those who do not know him, the most likely place for this to happen is through the church. One ever present topic in our news is the migrant situation. Jesus welcomed, valued and loved everyone so how do we make migrants feel welcome, valued and loved. It might be by opening up our borders and letting everyone in who wants to come. Equally it might be by working to improve the situations they come from so that they feel safe and secure there. Welcoming only those who ‘add benefit to the economy’ is certainly not the Jesus way. Every issue facing the world must be addressed by using the ‘what would Jesus do’ and the ‘what is God’s will’ models. The church must not be afraid to speak out and act unpopularly to achieve God’s will.

Ian

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