Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Come As You Are

In the cycle of the church year, we are in the season that is rather blandly called Ordinary time. It falls into a few chunks over the year, but we are in the longest section over the Summer. In these weeks and months, post-Easter, we hear again of the life and ministry of Jesus, and in so doing we are called to follow Him afresh and to grow in faith and trust.

Jesus generally met people in the ordinary places of life - by the well, on the road, on the lakeshore, in the countryside and He took them as they were.  People who spent time with Jesus in the Gospels usually discovered that those encounters were far from ordinary as they tended to be healed, to have their horizons broadened, to have their faith challenged and strengthened and to have their preconceived ideas about God blown apart. People encountering Jesus were changed and many went on to tell others of the goodness and love of God that they had encountered in Him.

Jesus still takes us as we are, as ordinary people, and through the Scriptures speaks words that challenge and encourage us in faith; in sharing the Eucharist He both welcomes us to eat with Him and feeds and sustains us.

At the end of the Eucharist each week we pray, 'Almighty God, we thank you for feeding us with the Body and Blood of Your Son Jesus Christ. Through Him we offer you our souls and bodies as a Living Sacrifice. Send us out in the power of your Spirit, to live and work to your praise and glory. Amen.' Filled with Jesus Christ, we too cannot but leave those encounters unchanged.  Like those who met with our Lord in first century Palestine, we too are sent out, compelled in all sorts of ways to tell others.

In the Autumn we each have a chance to do just that. On September 25th we will be joining thousands of other churches as we take part in ‘Back To Church Sunday.’ It is an opportunity for each of us to go out from church and  invite back, one person who hasn’t been to church for a while for a special service - an opportunity to encounter our Lord in Word and Sacrament again. Invitations will be given to you all in due course, in the meantime please spend some time thinking and praying who you would like to invite.

Actually we shouldn’t need to have a special service to do this. God’s offer of eternal life is such good news, we should not be able to help ourselves, telling others and inviting them to discover more. We need to trust that God is already encouraging people to explore faith for themselves; we need to trust that God hears and answers the prayers we pray asking Him to make clear to us who to invite; and we need to trust that we can do the inviting!

It is said that the most important person in any successful company is the receptionist. because it is the quality of the welcome that they give that encourages others to use the company again. The same is true of God’s church - it is the quality of the welcome that we each give that goes a long way to encouraging people to take the Gospel seriously.

BTCS at St Mary's Whittlebury from Back to Church Sunday on Vimeo.

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