We had a church away day today to Salisbury… So many things buzzing around my head… Hope this rant makes some sense!
We looked at Ezekiel 37, the valley of the dry bones, where God gives the young Ezekiel a vision of dry nines become knitted together and covered in skin, and then the Holy Spirit creation breath of life is breathed into them and they rise and stand.
It is easy to think that this passage is talking about initially the people of Israel or a picture of the Church, but actually Lucy Holt (the New Rector of my Old Church St. James in Poole) reminded us today that this is actually a picture of the whole of creation, God wanting to bring transformation and resurrection life into his world.
Interestingly the idea of looking at the world with Ezekiel eyes and seeing those people who with our human eyes maybe highly successful actually when seen with Gods perspective are actually spiritually dead.
How does God see us?
Our Church and the Communities we are located in?
Where in our community is death and dry bones crying out for resurrection life?
“Why have you stolen this building from the community?” a community missioner once asked a Church Council…
The idea that the Christian community and its resources are given to us to steward to see something of heaven touch the locality where Christ has placed and called us.
My friend Alan Jenner often says “Church should be an outpost of heaven” with her arms open longing to welcome in all who know they need of Christ.
I know it is a cliché but like all clichés it contains truth “Church is the only organisation which exists for its non members”.
“We are not a Community Centre, rather we are a Centre for the Community” said my old mentor Simon Woodley (Rector of Bemerton, Salisbury)…
It makes me ask the questions as Church why are we here?
And who are we here for?
Ultimately we are here for Christ, but as my friend Chris Harwood (Pioneer Minister in Poole) reminded us today that God thinks that Ŵorship that he counts as pleasing is to look after widows and orphans rather than empty going through the motions noise and rituals “I hate your festivals…but let justice flow like rivers”…
We serve Christ best by our lives lived out in the service for others, living a life of love because “the love of Christ compelling us”… and in this Worship we (to quote Mother Tersea) “we see Christ in some of his most distressing disguises”.
Yet it is in love, with our sleeves rolled up, sharing our lives, being there and showing love with more than just empty words that we see the Church becoming what God intended us to be.
Not just a building, and institution, or a place that holds a weekly religious ceremony but is Gods plan lived out for the redemption of the world he loved so much that he gave up his life for it.