Brothers and Sisters,
Some Sundays ago Fr. Jennings reminded us that on Sunday Nov.22, we would observe the end of the Church’s Liturgical Year. When he laughingly said, “Bye, Bye 2020!” we knew what he meant. What a year this has been! Who knew in January 2020 that by April many of us would be celebrating Holy Communion, on the outside looking in, with electronic devices? That Easter Sunday’s “He is Risen!” would be shared via You.tube? That Harvest Thanksgiving would see our churches without “pines, bananas, plums and pears”; and no “slender canes” either? And that COT’s annual rally would be a resounding success with no one sitting in the church?
Now, here we are; saying truthfully, that this year’s experiences with Covid 19 have made us Christians stronger in our faith, more aware of what is really important for our journeys, more sympathetic to those who, in order to stay well have had to stay away as much as possible. Our appreciation has grown immensely for our Church Committee and other church members who have gone beyond duty’s call, living lives that speak louder than words to ensure that “Church Keep” every Sunday in this Cure. Thank You Lord!
As over 1.5 MILLION persons have died of Covid 19 so far, Isaiah’s words resonate: “All people are grass, their constancy is like the flowers of the field…..The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.” (Isaiah 40:6b, 8). The grass and flower will perish, but God’s Word will stand forever as we, Christ’s hands and feet, join Him as, “He comes the prisoners to release….the broken heart to bind…..the bleeding soul to cure and…. to bless the humble poor.” (Advent. Hymn #40)
As we, Christ’s Church, strive to live meaningful lives, Rev. Dr. William Barclay in his book, Daily Celebration offers us some introspective guidelines:
“The Church must become fearlessly involved in the World…. showing where we stand on subjects like war and peace, and social justice. We must realize that there are greater sins than the sins of the flesh. Pride, callousness, social selfishness and materialism, are also, ‘deadly sins’. The Church must be completely honest in its preaching. There must be no evasion of issues [just] because to face them, might cause trouble.”
Today, some are questioning if, having experienced the ease of ‘Watching church’, some members will ever return to, ‘Go to church’ practices. Decisions have to be made. Rev. Barclay asks:
- Is the Church going to look back or forward? Stay in the 17th century or be relevant today?
- Will it look out or in? Open its eyes and go out to the millions who have lost touch with the Church altogether?
- Is the Church willing to allow activities and modern ways of enjoyment that will shock some of its members, as it seeks to establish some kind of human contact with lost generations?
We, in this Cure, have already started to address Barclay’s issues with cultural changes and work in our Marks of Mission. As we begin another Church Year, and with ‘loud Hosannas’ welcome the Prince of Peace, let Him see us putting on the whole armour of Christ, shouldering our cross, and to His glory, purposefully living lives that speak louder than words.