Having now got into the first full week of Lent, the Church’s Lenten courses will be in full swing.  I intend to join an ecumenical group in one of our local churches.  The course, led by an Anglican Priest, is to be centred around the 17th Chapter of John’s Gospel.  This chapter is part of the high priestly prayer of Jesus immediately before his crucifixion.  It opens with Jesus praying to his Father about their relationship and then for the unity of the disciples and all future followers.  His death is imminent and the words of this prayer reflect the urgency of the hour.  He asks that God’s presence through Him will remain with his disciples and followers.  Later in the chapter he also prays that his followers then and for all time will know the presence of the Spirit . 

Reading this chapter my mind goes to Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians  “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.  For in the one spirit we were all baptized into one body”.  The Body of Christ is a living organism through which God mediates his will and purposes in every age.

 As a Lenten reflection I want to share some thoughts based on the question “How well is the body of Christ that we are called to tend?”.    Lent is a good time for us to look at the health of our churches and  reflect on the ‘dis-ease’ that grips us. In our local area we are in the process of  joining two adjacent Methodist circuits together. This is a necessary step that must be taken because of the situation that we find ourselves in.  While this will be a cause of anguish to many of our folk, we need to remind ourselves that such  situations are not unique to us.  Throughout all  the main line denominations there has been from the 1960’s onwards a gradual decline which is now accelerating at an alarming pace. What is of paramount importance is the need to grasp this moment and to listen to what God is saying to us, through it 



When you are unwell you have first got to decide to go to the Doctor.  You know how it is.  You have a little niggle somewhere and you say “It will have gone by tomorrow”. But it hasn’t.  When you wake up the next day and the day after that it is still there.  You try to put if off but when at last you make an appointment with the doctor you know that perhaps you ought to have gone before.  The Doctor examines you and you wonder why he took so long.  You know when you look at his face.  Oh Dear!.   That is also true for us in the church.  We have all heard folk say,’ “O it’s just a dip”, “We need to pray a bit harder”.  And then there is the sigh of resignation,” We can’t do anything about it.

It may be that at least ten years ago we needed to take a” root and branch” in-depth look at where we were and where we were going.  The longer the delay the fewer the options that are left on the table.

OK, OK, we good mainline folk are now saying, “We are convinced, we are repentant and so on and so forth, but what exactly can we do”?  Our inability to imagine new possibilities is one of the reasons that we are where we are today.

Our God is in the resurrection business.  Truly God has given us many possibilities.  New ones will be discovered as we dig up the talents that we have buried and learn to use them in response to the Spirit’s direction.

I was regretting the past
And fearing the future.
Suddenly my Lord was speaking:
“My name is I AM”
He paused.
I waited.  He continued,
“when you live in the past
with its mistakes and regrets,
It is hard.  I am not there.
My name is not I WAS.
When you live in the future,
With its problems and fears,
It is hard.  I am not there.
My name is not I WILL BE
When you live in this moment
It is not hard.  I am here,
My name is I AM.
(To be continued)
John R

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