New Year’s day 2015, the old year is gone, the slate is clean, it’s an opportune time to make resolutions for the new year. My one resolution for 2015 is to accept the challenge that this blog poses to me every day. For a writer, the hardest thing is to write.
New year’s resolutions usually go the way of the proverb ‘the road to hell is paved with good intentions’. I understand this to mean that usually nothing comes of our attempts to improve ourselves. The saying has it’s origin in the bible, where the apostle James bluntly says that faith without actions is dead.
I love going to church of a Sunday. Yet, for decades I have wandered like a lost sheep over the hills and dales of New Age, and many other ‘isms’. All worthwhile, but never feeling ‘home’. I wondered, what is taking the shepherd so long to retrieve me? Looking after a flock of 99 doesn’t leave much time, I guess. It is written that whenever the shepherd sneaked off into the wilds of prayer and lost sheep, someone called him back to the always urgent daily grind.
I rejoiced when she who must be obeyed said to me: ‘Let us move to the Newcastle diocese of the Anglican Church. Here we can worship more regularly, and find our niche as lost-and-found sheep’. Soon it was obvious that both in the local church and in the mother cathedral, the focus is very much on the action part of faith, reduced to social justice. To a hammer everything looks like a nail. To a social justice church, everything looks like injustice and oppression. The sermons are divisive, God is absent, the ritual is therefore pointless, and merely gets in the way of the activist ideology.
The upside is that attending these churches is cause for reflection about what could have been said from the pulpit. It prompts me to look at the context of the proof texts used by the priest, and somehow try to fathom what the bible really is saying. The issue boils down to the relationship between the Kingdom that Jesus was pointing to and the church. What does it mean to be a church? I will use this blog in 2015 to reflect and broaden my understanding. It could well be that my expectation of the church as a work in progress toward the New Jerusalem so wonderfully described in Revelation 21 and 22, where God is always present, is mistaken.
In a tongue in cheek way, for me this photo illustrates perfectly what Jesus was saying about the difficulty of getting into the Kingdom, with this twist: the narrow railroad with all its connotations of business and secular activity bypasses the church.