Get out of church!

No, this isn’t something I say to newcomers on a Sunday morning. If I was to say it to anyone, it would be to the congregation in general. Because some of the most productive encounters we have had as a church have happened when we have stepped out in faith beyond the four walls of the building. I am thinking of the Remembrance Sunday, of course, and the events in Devonport Park, and the Good Friday walks of witness, none of which have borne immediate fruit but which have made connections with people who would never come to us or think of the church as being for them. I was reminded of this last Wednesday when we went carol singing. We had all kinds of encounters in Stoke village, from the children who ran to greet us, to the cocky teenagers who nonetheless sat and listened respectfully in the bus shelter, to the drunks who became all emotional when we sung their favourite carol. Something about a small group of people singing Christmas songs really spoke to folk, and there were plenty of windows opened as people stopped to listen. I sensed a deep spiritual hunger “out there”. It was as if we were offering a distant glimpse of light in the darkness. I can only pray that some will be drawn to seek out that light, and find it is the light of Christ. That is my Christmas wish and prayer this year.

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