It’s so easy to believe that Jesus is good news for all. It isn”t that hard to say it, either. But I wonder what a church would look like that really was good news for all. The trouble is, despite our creeds and our fine words, we like church to be full of people who are to a lesser or greater extent like us. It’s only human, after all. It’s hard to worship with people we don’t relate too well or are simply different.
Yet our calling at St Michael’s and St Barnabas is to be a community where there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female. How might this come about? On one level, it is impossible. If we simply try to create a community like this through our own efforts, we will fail. This kind of unity is actually only possible when we are walking in the Spirit and united in our faith in Christ.
So how might the Spirit be leading us to create this kind of community? Yesterday, Pete Winmill of Causeway Prospects shared how the Lord led him into a ministry working with those with learning difficulties, a section of people who are grossly underrepresented in the church. He challenged us as to how well we include them into the life of our church, and whether we needed to be involved in establishing some kind of group in Plymouth. Because the simple point he made is that God’s love really is for everyone, a point which he reinforced by teaching some very simple songs and accompanying Makaton sign language.
Something else that also struck me yesterday was the number of nationalities represented in our two congregations – South African, Lithuanian, Zimbabwean, Mexican, Jamaican – to name but five. In a city which is still to a large extent monocultural it seems that as a church we have a particular role to play to show a unity that transcends human boundaries.
And of course there were the children there. I am so conscious that we have very few resources to properly cater for them, but I am so grateful for the faithfulness they and their parents show. Again, it seems that being able to break down generational boundaries is another mark of the Spirit at work.
Yet sad to say there were plenty of people who for a variety of no doubt good reasons weren’t there yesterday. It’s all very well talking about unity in the Spirit taking in folk of all abilities and background and ages, but unless we really are all gathered together in one place under the word of God for the worship of God, then I struggle to see how we can realise this vision of unity the Spirit is giving us.
Plenty of food for thought – what do you think?