September 2010

posted 26 Aug 2010, 13:44 by Richard Jones   [ updated 26 Aug 2010, 13:52 ]
The Vicar writes . . .

IF YOU WERE TO ASK PEOPLE what they thought Christians did I’m willing to bet that among the most common answers would be that we pray, study the Bible and talk together about God.

And, of course, they’d be right. We do all of those things. But when read the Bible in our services the only person who gets to talk about it and how it affects our daily lives, is me.

And when we pray it’s generally in the form of intercessions. And in any case, because of the nature of our worship it’s of necessity all a bit formal and structured. Now I’m not suggesting that there’s anything wrong with that. It’s the right way to pray in the context of a formal service and a large gathering of people.

But what do we do the rest of the time? Are we just ‘Sunday Morning’ Christians? Is our relationship with God limited to the hours of 10-30 to 12 on Sundays - or 8-30 to 9-15, or 6-30 to 7-15?

Many of us pray alone during the rest of the week. We ‘say our prayers’ like we’ve always done. Or we just talk informally to God during the day, or when we need Him.

We tend to be a bit insular, don’t we? And we’re quite happy praying on our own, aren’t we? -- Well, yes, and I don’t want to suggest that a deep, personal relationship with God isn’t the right thing to have. It really is essential for us as Christians to have a close, loving relationship with God through our Lord, Jesus. But if that’s all there is to it, then I think we’re selling ourselves (and our church) short. Our church is a Community, a Communion. It’s a ‘coming together and sharing’ thing. Church is something that we do with each other and for each other.

And our spiritual life should be like that too. I’m convinced that if we at St. Mary’s and St. Leonard’s were to get together to form small groups to talk about God and how he is integral to the lives we lead and also willing to intercede with him, in a regular, disciplined and persistent way, then our Christian community would grow in strength as well as in numbers. But it needs to be in addition to our services and our private prayer time.

We all know that Jesus promised to be there “When two or three are gathered in my name”. (Matt 10:20) But we tend to forget that in the previous verse he also tells us that if we agree about anything we ask, it will be done for us “by my Father in heaven”.

My suggestion is that we begin to get together in small groups to meet regularly to discuss, to read and to pray. But we need to be persistent and disciplined in the way we go about it.

And we can’t just leave it to ‘the usual few’. It’s up to all of us. If you think your relationship with God is in the doldrums. If your Christianity has gone a bit flat. Don’t just put up with it! Ask yourself ‘why?’ - If God seems a long way off. Ask yourself ‘who moved?’

The devil works very hard to separate Christians from each other and from God. And really, the answer’s in our own hands. The writer of the book of Ecclesiastes in the Old Testament was talking about fighting spiritual oppression when he said, “A cord of many strands is not quickly broken.”

If you’d like to be part of a house group, add your name to the list at the back of church, and also let us know if we could meet at your place. And if there are enough of us, we’ll have a meeting to decide where, when and how often we’re going to meet.

May God’s blessing be with you all