Minister’s July August Letter

Dear Friends,

                    How are the Holy Habits going?  My impression is that the list itself (see below) looks deceptively simple and straightforward.  None of the Holy Habits come as a surprise to us - they are just the kind of things  Christians “do.”   It is once you start looking at them in more depth that you realise that they are not quite so straightforward as they look.

Engaging with the Bible presents us with huge opportunities to expand our knowledge and grow our faith ….. until you read the exploits of the people in the book of Judges …. or find yourself enjoying the Song of Solomon for what seem to be the “wrong’ reasons …… or wonder who will be left in heaven after reading of all the people, beasts and mythical creatures who have been cast into the lake of fire in the book of Revelation.

Fellowship sounds like a nice “cosy” habit but, as I pointed out recently, fellowship is not the same thing as friendship.   Friendship comes naturally and is about the people we like and who like us.  Fellowship is about creating a community of very diverse people, many of whom you may not naturally “like,” for the sake of a greater cause.   And what do you do about people in the fellowship who are difficult to live with?  Or appear to be going out of their way to annoy you?  It has been said that the most difficult task Jesus gave his twelve disciples was that of putting up with the other eleven …..

Late July/early August, we look at Breaking Bread, now known as Holy  Communion.  Again, it is a simple enough Sacrament (sacred action) of sharing bread and wine together in memory of Jesus Christ.  What could possibly go wrong with that?  Read any history of the Christian Church, starting with Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians and you will see just how many ways it went wrong.  There has probably been more church division over the                celebrating of Holy Communion than any other single issue. 

And we have not even started on prayer, giving and making more disciples!

Should not faith be a simple thing?  Could not God have managed to set things out so clearly that no-one could possibly have misunderstood?  Then there would have been no doubts, no divisions, no confusion but just a nice straightforward certainty.   A very wise elderly minister once said to me that “the   opposite of faith is not doubt.  The opposite of faith is certainty.”

Faith is about “betting your life that there is a God.”  It is about committing yourself wholeheartedly to a being you cannot see, nor prove “scientifically,” nor ever understand in full because that is what being “God” is all about.

Faith is something that comes to birth and grows in the deepest and innermost part of our nature.  It can never be completely summed up by what we do or by what we think or by how we feel.  It is nurtured by our “spiritual awareness,” which neuroscientists admit exists but also admit they cannot get their heads round it.

So no, faith is never going to be simple and straightforward and uniform, is it?  But if, at its heart, there is a God (GOD!!) who loves us as only God can love us, then surely it is worth exploring?  If the Holy Habits stand a chance of bringing us closer to knowing God, closer to understanding our faith, closer to opening out our own spirituality and closer to “growing” our church, then are they not worth studying, worth questioning, worth discussing with each other, worth putting into practice?

The first Christians never found them straightforward (see Pauls’ letters to all the churches) but the one notable characteristic those people had was joy. No matter what the hardships or the injustice or the internal wrangling, they were brimming over with zest for life and for God.

The Holy Habits made them “whole” people.  Now there is a goal worth  aiming for.

With love and good wishes to you all,

Jennifer Millington

CREATING HOLY HABITS AS WE WALK THE WAY --  Look them up in Acts 2, verses 42-47 and see how the first Christians grew their faith and grew their church.

 Engaging with the Bible.                      

Fellowship

Breaking of Bread (Communion).   

Prayer

Giving                                            

Gladness and Generousity

Worship                                         

Service

Eating Together                              

Making More Disciples