The good old CofE commemorated John Bunyan this week – as each day we are invited to be inspired by the lives of those who ‘excited holiness’. What finer man of faith than John Bunyan…
I was reminded of the second verse of his great hymn on reading in The Times that a survey of Anglican clergy had – shock horror – revealed that they no longer believed they ministered to a ‘Christian country’. A dismal story to be sure and frankly not really breaking news.
The religious commentator Anne Atkins, often a voice on Radio 4s ‘Thought for Today’ to give your cornflakes added crunch, had her say and reminded readers that Jesus Christ does not rely solely on the CofE and that the ‘Church of Christ’ could go on without it. Indeed so…
I’m not one for CofE exceptionalism nor triumphalist Christianity. Whilst easily seduced by Betjemesque sentimentality for past glories, I hope that I am fleet of foot enough to know that ‘tradition’ is always in momentum and that ‘metanoia – change’ lies at the heart of the Christian Gospel and therefore Christian living.
‘O, to be a pilgrim!’. Well. Surely we are all pilgrims, growing in faith as we journey through life. With our sights set on ‘the Heavenly City’ let us grow through all that we encounter on the Way. Most especially, let’s not be distracted by dismal stories. We have the Good News – let us continue to be good news!
Over the coming weeks we will be telling the good news of the glory of God’s creation as we celebrate through September the ‘Season of Creation’. Looking ahead to November, Susan will be leading Habour Churches in talks and discussion groups on ‘Being Human’ based on Living in Love and Faith, the Church of England process which sets out to inspire people to think more deeply about what it means to be human and to live in love and faith with one another. It tackles the tough questions and the divisions among Christians about what it means to be holy in a society in which understandings and practices of gender, sexuality and marriage continue to change.
Despite what the media say, this is no dismal story for practicing Anglicans, but a God given opportunity to live with informed integrity, generously reconciled to the fact that there are many faithful pilgrims whose way to the Heavenly City will be different to ours – to be truly ‘holy’.
With love and blessings