Berwick Thought for the Week: Lent for Life

The recent Census results show, amongst other things, yet another decline in church attendance and allegiance, and so churches across the board struggle to keep going.
John-Michael, who has written this article, and a picture of a church.John-Michael, who has written this article, and a picture of a church.
John-Michael, who has written this article, and a picture of a church.

My hunch is that church attendance is generally seen to be something dull, old-fashioned, requiring a commitment people are not prepared to give. The ‘weekend’ is what people live for nowadays, it has become their life.

All the modernisation ideas that took off in the 1960s and 70s appear not to have re-filled the churches. The likelihood is, however, that if some blogger packaged passages from the teachings of Jesus in the gospels, entitling them ‘The Sayings of Joshua bar Mariam’, the whole thing would go viral.

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Who could possibly quarrel with the teachings of Christ, hard though many of his sayings are? Every day we see examples of people making huge sacrifices for their disabled or seriously ill children; people going the extra mile (often running), people fired by love of their neighbour, especially caring for the elderly and lonely.

But the First Commandment is missing, ‘to love the Lord your God…’. Christianity is not just about living according to teachings; it is supremely a community, and one based on a person, The Person, Jesus Christ, and his kingdom.

Lent in the western Church is upon us as I write. Whatever else we do in Lent, we really need to settle down to read again carefully – soak in – The Sayings of Joshua bar Miriam each day.

Encountered afresh, they will surely lead us back to the sayer. We need to rediscover The Person, both personally and in community, who alone can transform our lives, and so the life of the world. He is our life.

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