One of the joys of being on sabbatical is the freedom to visit other churches. Yesterday we went to an Anglican church because they were having an all age service. It was an unusual Anglican church, the vicar wore no robes or even a dog collar, there was no liturgy, in fact you wouldn’t have been able to tell it from a Baptist service.
What intrigued me was the fact that the content of the service made a link with something I had been reading on mission namely that the Christian life is not just about what happens when you die but more also what happens now, in life. So often the church has been seen as merely the waiting room for heaven. Yesterday’s service was harvest festival and the reading from John 6 where Jesus talks about himself being the ‘bread of life’. We started with a video from Tearfund about how they help people to not go hungry in Africa. The talk which involved some soil, some water, Some air, and some light, focused on God’s creativity in combining these things to give us food which then he links to the passage.
Sadly, for me, the vicar then focused on the bread of life for eternal life and how if we believed in Jesus then we would go to heaven. For me the link back to the Tearfund video of how faith in Christ spurs us on to help those in need, especially the poor, to make a difference today in our lives and other people’s lives within might have far better emphasis. You could have then added the piece about eternal life that God gives in the present and in the future.
I often hear about how we should be concerned for those ‘who hav ea lost eternity’ but sometimes little concern about thire ‘lost present’. Surely we need to combine both and not focus on one or the other alone?