O Church, arise!
In an age of war, famine, pandemic, politicised conflict, and post-truth politics the Church has never been more provoked to offer an alternative narrative centred on life, resurrection and truth. The Church is the potential conveyors of the counter-testimony of our time.
But the world’s view of the church isn’t great. Certainly, in this country the Church is no longer in the collective consciousness of society. Jesus is more often recognised for good ethical teaching than he is for salvation. God is viewed in a pluralistic way, collected up with other god’s including a whole host of new one’s for our time – personalised and tailored for our own liking.
In many ways the Church nationally has fallen victim to this, with its repeated attempts to remain relevant by playing cultural catchup, and designing missionary activity around the latest fads, rather than holding tight to the compelling and provocative nature of God’s Word. We too easily find ourselves (the Church) wrapped up in internal disagreement over matters that really shouldn’t matter that much, and getting tied up in debates that to the rest of the world make us seem blind to the real issues of our time – like poverty, loneliness and climate change. We must do better.
As Christians we should be telling a different story. One told not simply by text or rubric. But by the way we live our lives. It’s not just for the pulpit, or for Sunday mornings with our Christian friends, but also in the moments we share with others, in fact it is MORE important in the moments we share with others.
Like many other encounters with Jesus in the gospels, the story of Lazarus reminds us that to help others see the glory of God in Jesus, something may have to die, in order for something new to awaken.
Jesus has come to us (the Church) like he came to the tomb of Lazarus. He’s come to wake it up. And as we awake, he has given the Church a choice. “We are either to live our life shaped and defined by death (as others may do), or to live out our death because it is defined by life.”
All Saints Day is the ideal time to look back and to recall the remarkable stories of faith including those that have served here. It is also a time to acknowledge that we have not always got it right. I have not always got it right, and I recognise that. But today is also a time to step forward, awakened with a renewed commitment to live faithfully for this time, to give ourselves afresh to the service of Christ. As our Bishops have said, we aren’t going back to how things might have been – too much has changed; we move forward, ready to live for him again. Alive, and breathing, with our wrappings removed. Let us go and serve Him.
Revd Jeremy Putnam