The Tarnished Jewel was the name of a report about an estate a friend works on in Swindon.
It had started off all gleaming, sparkling and new in post war housing with luxuries like in door-toilets and airing cupboards. Yet years later it is a run down estate.
The Church on this Estate is called Shine, the idea of gleaming and sparkling with Gods love. That is the image of what Church should be like, shining out like stars in the heavens, literally bring a light in the darkness.
Yet I believe the Church should make the whole estate shine… I remember in the book of Jeremiah the prophet us called to ‘seek the good of the city’, a call which applies to Christians today. We alter the spiritual DNA of a place simply by being present.
Being good news in a place will change how we feel about somewhere, I believe it is no coincidence that where Street Pastors patrol crime rate falls.
Even on the very basic level having Christians cleaning the streets from litter will make people think and feel better about where they live.
The minister talks about making people sparkle, I know what he means, when people feel loved and valued you an sometimes literally see the sparkle, they look better, smiley and better.
I went to Holy Trinity Brompton for an evening service and heard about a lady who did the nails and chatted to the homeless ladies, and she said they left looking and feeling like a human beings, when most of their life experiences are dehumanizing.
Little things can still cause a great sparkle… Because for the person being blessed they aren’t little thing at all.
Often our Churches are meant to be sparkling jewels but sadly, life, sin, pain, confusion and brokenness have tarnished them somewhat, so much so that many of us have wondered and wished we could be without this jewel of the Church. Just type ‘post church’ into Google and weep!
Some of us who are vicary types, are sometimes given these tarnished stones to look after, and what we are called to do, in partnership with the Holy Spirit and the people of faith, is to see the Church regain its sparkle, to learn how to shine afresh.
Sometimes the tarnish on the stone seems really embedded and tough to remove, not always easy to restore sparkle when the years of grime sometimes encrusts it, but yet underneath any real Church will be the gleam of God.
So, let’s be people who shine for Christ.
Let’s be people that work towards making the Church shine for his Glory.
Let’s be people that make others shine.
Let’s be be that make our communities shine.
…and lets do it all for the Glory of Jesus.