In Matthew 16 13-19, Jesus asks the disciples who they think he is. All the people they think he is – John the Baptist, Elijah or Jeremiah – are good people to be. However, it is only when Simon Peter says that he is ‘the Messiah, the Son of the Living God’ that things shift in the passage. At this moment Simon Peter has seen the glory of God revealed in Jesus. When this happens, Jesus tells them that the way that God will continue to reveal His glory, after he has gone, is through the Church.
There is a dilemma when we look back in history – sometimes we would like to eliminate the Church as the chosen vehicle to tell people about the gospel. For, after all, hasn’t the Church embarrassed us all in some shape or form? The Church seems to have given Jesus a bad reputation, from the Crusades to the Inquisition, from the defense of slavery through scripture to the Westboro Baptists who picket service men and women’s funerals declaring God’s judgment on them, and even the child abuse in our own Diocese. At each stage the Church has taken the blame, the stain, and has to live with it – one could be forgiven for thinking that the Church has little reputation or right to speak up.
We can either pretend that we are not the Church, so that we don’t have to carry the baggage of lots of bad decisions by lots of people, or we can take on and re-claim the name for all those people who don’t know what the Church should actually be. As we pray ‘thy kingdom come’ let us keep in mind that Jesus is the hope of the world and the Church is how God has chosen to bring in His kingdom and make Jesus known.
And Jesus himself tells us that God’s kingdom comes in unexpected ways; it doesn’t just come with a great clap of thunder at the end of time, it grows in our midst, secretly. It comes through in quirky little moments when people do extraordinary things, take extraordinary risks and leads you to think “Ah yes, that’s a life in which God is real”.
You may have seen the story this week that prompted a mother to post this on Facebook:
‘I would like to say a massive thank you to the lady in the photo (sorry didn’t see her name) who helped me today at Morrisons in Basingstoke. I have two children that are both registered blind and are also autistic. As you can imagine shopping is not an easy thing for me to do, at the checkout both girls decided to go into meltdown and this very kind lady decided to help instead of judge. It doesn’t happen very often! She distracted my daughter by letting her scan all my shopping. A dream come true for Holly who loves playing ‘shops’. It melts my heart to come across people that are prepared to go the extra mile, and little acts of kindness makes a massive difference to my world. I hope this gets back to her and she knows how much we appreciate it. Amanda xxx’.
These acts of love and service are what should define the Church. Imagine a Church doing that – Jesus did!
Please pray that Jesus may be made known in the area of Pound Hill and Worth to the north of Worth Road & Turners Hill Road and south of Worth Park Avenue/A2220 which includes the Church of St Barnabas and Pound Hill Junior School. As you pray for the School please remember the year 5 children that are on a residential trip to the Isle of Wight, the Headteacher, Anthony White, and all those who work or study at the school.