July - August 2017
I haven't ridden a bicycle for many years, not just because I'm lazy but also because I'm a bit nervous. And, as a car driver and a pedestrian, I get rather annoyed by some cyclists who try to keep moving at all costs, dangerously weaving their way through stationary traffic and refusing to stop at zebra crossings.
But those cyclists do have the laws of physics on their side. For all moving objects possess both momentum and kinetic energy, which can only be restored by the input of fresh energy. In simple terms this means that a cyclist who slows down will have to pedal hard to get back to their former speed. The power required - especially on steep Welsh hills - can only come from the rider's aching muscles!
I think that churches possess a kind of spiritual momentum. This can't, of course, be measured in any scientific way, yet we all know when things are going well and we feel that we're "getting somewhere". Actually this shouldn't surprise us, for every congregation is supposed to be a community in movement, seeking to follow our leader who is God. This pilgrim theme runs through the Bible from Abraham to Jesus and beyond.
But there is a real danger that a church can lose its sense of motion, especially during the summer. For we are now in the holiday period: families with children are eagerly awaiting the end of the school year, while retired folk have already been making their escape before prices reach their peak. Many of our church's regular activities will soon be put "on hold" or merely tick over.
There is nothing wrong with this, as all pilgrims deserve a break to rest their weary feet or take a refreshing drink. But, as every walker knows, if you pause for too long your muscles seize up and it becomes hard to get moving again. Equally, everyone who's had a holiday has experienced that "I really don't want to go back to work" feeling when they return home. Lethargy can very easily become the order of the day!
So, when summer comes to its end, we will have to overcome our inertia. For once we've all caught our breath after the Holiday Bible Club, we'll be "kicking off" our autumn season with the Golden Jubilee weekend, complete with Quiz Night, Concert and special services. The Playgroup and our other regular activities will recommence. We'll have Harvest, Remembrance and the Autumn Fair. And, before we know it, we'll be starting Panto rehearsals and thinking of Christmas - what a thought!
But we haven't yet arrived at that point; the quieter weeks of summer still lie ahead of us. So might I urge us all to use some of that fallow time in thinking and praying about two things, ready for the autumn.
The first is mission and outreach to our neighbourhood. I am very aware that although lots of young people come through our doors each week, we aren't making many meaningful contacts with the people who live around us. We have a responsibility to share our Christian message with them - but how can we do this? People are not going to beat a path to our doors, so we need to discover ways of interacting with them.
The second is our own involvement in church life. It's all too easy for Christians to come to church and assume that other folk will do all the necessary jobs to keep things running, whether that be cutting the grass, making the tea, photocopying the notice-sheet or simply welcoming visitors. But activities and events don't happen by themselves and all churches rely on willing volunteers to run them. Some folk at Christchurch are doing a great deal: so is there anything that you could do, however small it may seem, to bear part of their load? You may think you have nothing to contribute - so remember that St. Paul says that every Christian has a gift which they should use to serve Christ in his Church.
Please do enjoy the summer, especially if you have been working hard for God during the rest of the year. I hope that we will all have time to relax, reflect and think. And then, when autumn comes, let's move ahead with renewed vigour and find a new momentum which will be quite unstoppable!
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