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Let’s do something radical… like live our faith!

March 2, 2014

I’ve been looking at Matthew 17.1-9, and it is clear to me that the Transfiguration is the turning point of Jesus story. Before going up that mountain Jesus was an itinerant preacher and healer, with no obvious destination. Yes, he has just told his disciples that he will be betrayed, suffer and die, but this walk up the mountain with Peter, James and John is the pivot point before Jesus is ready to head towards Jerusalem and those terrible events. When Jesus comes down again he is heading for Jerusalem, and a showdown with the authorities that will lead to the cross. That is why this reading is so important right now, just before the start of Lent.

The story of the Transfiguration is about change. Jesus’ appearance changes as he is suddenly revealed in his heavenly glory, and there is a real change in direction for his mission.

Now this is a time of change for the Church too. Our world has changed and is continuing to change at an incredible rate. There are social changes. There is now far greater equality of the sexes and races than when I was a young child. Here in the UK we have had a woman Prime Minister and over in the USA a man of colour has become President. Even the dear old Church of England now has women priests and I am very privelidged to work with Karen and Sue (pictures below):


Karen Sue

There have been huge technological changes, with mobile phones moving from being the size of a brick and only capable of being used as a phone to the latest smartphones that we now have.

So much change and so often the church is like a rabbit caught in the headlights. We have access to the one who made everything; the source of all Truth and Wisdom; the one who gives meaning to everything, yet we so often respond with fear and anger to changes in the world rather than offer a lead. What is wrong with us?

We are not listening to the prophetic power of the Spirit, we are not offering a lead, we are running behind. We are offering opinions and arguments way after everyone else made their decisions and moved on. But we as Christians are so divided on almost every issue. How can we offer a lead? We still have about a quarter of the Church of England that cannot accept women priests, never mind women bishops. So how can we speak to our world words of wisdom?

But I’m wondering whether the Spirit has not given us one voice for a purpose. We still have the fruits of the Spirit, love, joy, peace, self-control etc. (Galatians 5.22-23). Perhaps what we are called to do is to show the world how to deal with difficult issues? Perhaps we are to show the world that there is a better way to disagree that to fight? Perhaps, we can love our enemies who argue with us? We can still care and love those with whom we don’t agree. I can disagree with someone who cannot accept women priests or bishops, but I should never let that descend into ridicule and hate.

If I opened a debate about homosexuality, I know from talking to the people in my church that there would be disagreement. This debate is coming to our church, so let’s learn from our mistakes over the ordination of women. Don’t let the Devil lead us into hatred and rash words. We have been blessed with a second chance to show the world how we can disagree in love.

You see, I don’t think that we have failed by not leading the way for our country. I think that we have failed to live out our Christian faith. We have been so caught up with our opinion of what is right or wrong and we have been so frightened of change that we have shown our country a gospel of hate, and malice and deceit!

What do we do about our failure, our sin? Easy, we return to the Gospel. We look at the gospel values, those fruits of the Spirit, we pray, we listen to the Spirit, we listen to each other, we pray some more, perhaps we say a little about what we think the Spirit wants, and we listen some more.

I was reading yesterday in Church Times that the Church of England needs radical change if it is to have any hope of a future. I agree, but not with all the fine looking plans for re-organisation. That is just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. We need radical change. We need to become a Church of Christians who live the Gospel and we need to start at the heart of how we make decisions. We need to put love back, we need to have a beating heart of flesh not a heart of stone.

The Bible is a radical book, which with the inspiration of the Spirit can give us all the guidance we need. So why not turn to it for inspiration about how we are to live each moment on into the future?

God has given us all we need.

The Gospel is attractive if we don’t mess with it.

So let’s start trusting our God, get on with living as the Spirit directs, and trust the Spirit to guide us into all truth.

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