Sorry about the tangled title.
I’ve had a quiet day today and been catching up on my reading, so it’s a couple of copies of the Church Times, the latest New Scientist, and a theology book by Graham Ward that I’d meant to read ages ago but hadn’t had the time: The Politics of Discipleship, (2009).
It’s very good indeed -deep on background- thoughtful in argument and relevant in content. But the gist is the same as ever, it’s an attempt to get people to take Christian discipleship seriously, on every level of human life. Every choice we make, from the coffee we drink to the clothes we wear and where we go on holiday, has an impact on other members of God’s human race, and needs to be brought into the realm of our Christian life, rather than treated as secular and external to our ‘religious’ activity.
And what is more, every choice we ignore, every market force and advertising push that we allow ourselves to be thoughtlessly swept along by, or accept as a general ‘fact of life’… is a little apathetic decision to sleepwalk into the service of false gods, rather than seek a better way.
Of course it’s foolish to think we could extricate ourselves as individuals, from such economic forces and live some kind of faux-Amish ‘good-life’- self sufficient in some kind of holy commune… no we human beings are all already bound up to each other by need and provision -and that is no bad thing. But we need to rouse ourselves… (isn’t it always the way?!)… to actually LIVE our lives as Christians, seeking to offer all, gradually back to God from whom everything comes; and moving towards holiness by taking our discipleship seriously and not being to content to blunder on in darkness and ignorance (by which I literally mean -ignoring much of life and the world we live in) but instead living in the light of Christ.
There is a phrase in our Sunday morning prayers which comes from Ephesians Chapter 5:
‘Awake O sleeper and arise from the dead; And Christ shall give you light’
I confess that often I feel like that is the hardest part of a preacher’s job… simply to get the gathered listeners to wake up, spiritually… and then to STAY awake, beyond the after-service coffee…
YES -we celebrate a foretaste of heaven as we gather on a Sunday together
YES – we are reminded of God’s love for us and are reassured of sins forgiven
BUT -then as the gathered worshippers are sent out -there is this worrying feeling that they are not setting off on the ‘narrow way’ to love and serve the Lord, but going out like Dorothy Gale along the yellow-brick road into a dreamland laden with soporific poppies… a land in which, by the time the Sunday Roast is digested and the papers begin to look crumpled… they will drift back to sleep; forgetful of their own soul and their brothers and sisters in humanity who are in need.
I don’t know what the answer is, perhaps it’s stronger after-service coffee.