Anne Currie
22nd June 2014
The World Moves on, The Church Evolves

I wonder what your earliest memories are?

Funnily enough some of mine are of church… rather odd really when you consider that my family at that time was weddings, funerals and baptisms only!

I can remember when I was about three… being present at my sister’s baptism. Don’t remember a huge amount about it… just remembering the image of my parents and my sister at the font. I was not one of them, being relegated to a side pew with an aunt.

I wonder if, you have similar recollections of when you were in church as a child.

For these are the things which make up our perceptions of church and our faith, what you learn as a child. And it all goes towards making us the person that we are and how we pass our knowledge and experience onto the next generation.

The readings we’ve just heard, can on the surface of it seem rather dark and forbidding. They seem to be all about death, or conflict and strife amongst family members, and the great cost of discipleship.

But there are hopeful things to think about here.

As I said earlier each generation passes on knowledge and experience… and one way in which we pass on our faith is through baptism. We make promises on behalf of our children to bring them up and encourage them in their faith throughout their childhood and into adulthood.

This has been an unbroken pattern for 2000 years. A document known as the Didache dates back to the 1st or 2nd century AD and gives us the way that new Christians should be baptised.

As each generation grows up it takes up its own cross of discipleship, each generation builds upon the church that has gone before. For there is no doubt that the church of the 21st century is very different from the church of the 1st century. We hold the same core belief – Jesus died out of love for us, he rose from the dead and now sits with God the father, sending the Holy Spirit to us in his place. But the world moves on and the church has to take account of this progression, even if we sometimes think the church is a little slow on the uptake!

It’s become a bit of thing to say that the church is not keeping up with the times, that it is stale, irrelevant to today’s world, and that it won’t be around in 20year time.

I would like to argue against that… Jesus tells us that a disciples whilst continuing the mission are not to be like the teachers or authorities of the world. Not to set themselves over and against other, but to be guides. And in 2014 we find the church quietly and without a fuss, working in the area of social justice and providing resources in the face of increasing poverty and government cutbacks. And making a real difference.

To name a few… social work with young families via agencies such as Welcare, food banks, debt counselling, credit unions, drop in centres, night shelters, job clubs for the unemployed, youth clubs, lunch clubs for the elderly, counselling of every kind, not to mention all the Fresh Expressions of Church ventures that are happening… and out in the rural areas, churches are taking on the hosting of village shops, post offices so that these vital community hubs are not lost forever.

Yesterday morning, 50 members of this church spent a couple of hours talking about where we will begin to go with our mission plans for the next few years as part of our MATT29 project. The amount of buzz and vitality that was shown by the results of groups discussions clearly shows a church with energy and a will to hand onto the next generation a vibrant and relevant church.

Practical demonstrations of discipleship are not without cost, in terms of time or effort, or even conflict with others. But they are the stuff of which a church that purports to be at the centre of its community, is seen and judged by.

I pray that the work we will continue to do in the town of Redhill, will keep us alive and kicking as a church for many years to come.

Romans 6.1b-11
Matthew 10.24-39