Thoughts for the Month
I must confess that I enjoy watching the television programme ‘Who do you think you are?’. A programme where a celebrity agrees to have their family history researched. The researchers often uncover some family surprises and there are many twists and turns as the programme unfolds.
There is a common theme, a real sense of them belonging and being in touch with their past in a way which helps them to make a deeper sense of the present context. It is clearly a humbling and moving experience for all those involved.
As Christians we have our own history, which has informed our context; the Church is built upon the foundation of the apostles and their successors; we are also part of that history. More locally, at Holy Trinity, we have a long and rich history going back to Dicul in 673, and probably much earlier, not to forget Cnut, Harold, and indeed those countless souls who have worshipped in various ways down the ages.
Within the Church there is often an emphasis that people need to believe before they belong. I would like to suggest that people can, in fact, belong before they believe. In the gospels, we only need to consider Zacchaeus, he clearly came to belief only after Jesus had befriended him. Jesus made it clear that it is the depth of our relationships with one another that would convince people that he is the Messiah; that is as true today as it was when Jesus walked the earth.
The Church of which we are part has much to offer the world, but in our modern context I think that people will only commit their lives to Jesus once they have been exposed to a community which seems to embody and reflect him. We have the good news of Jesus to share, but also have a special community to offer—belonging is therefore important for mission.
Incidentally, I discovered that my sixth time maternal grandmother Anne George (née Chard) was born in Bosham in 1733 and baptised in the church on April 1st of the same year; she was buried in Chidham in 1767.
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