June Letter from Mat

Bishop Mike’s Pentecost letter is a challenging one. In it he reminds us that the early church of Acts was a worshipping and prayerful community, a body of people who connected their spiritual life with their practice, a community committed to share what they held in common with those who ‘had need’, a community who took responsibility for their neighbour and they were growing. To be community means to take responsibility. Crucially they were also a community who were awestruck by the presence of God in their midst and they saw the power of God at work amongst them. Are we like this? Would you like us to be?

Bishop Mike goes on to say this,

“21st century living brings many challenges to Christians: … our society has more inequality than in the past; the challenge of life and death issues; the disturbing trends in our UK culture etc.

… To many we appear as small-minded and introverted, obsessed with our own survival and with sex. In all of this, there is a massive challenge to ask ourselves the important question of ‘How now shall we live?’.

Interestingly, whilst the lifestyle of many Christians in The West has lost favour — largely, I would argue, because it has lost distinctiveness — it has also lacked a prophetic and gospel challenge in its message. …

It is understandable that in a context of alleged decline we can fear that to be heard to be challenging in our message might make us less popular. However, we surrender the prophetic and Gospel voice of the Church at our peril.

I believe that we need a fresh infilling of the Holy Spirit, to help us with our fear and to re-shape us to be the Church that we are called to be … we need the Spirit to help us to be less self-obsessed and more focused on the world which God has called us to serve and to save.”

Amen to that!

During this month I’d like to challenge you to read through the Acts of the Apostles again. Read the stories as if you hadn’t read them before. Read them reflecting on what the church today would look like if this was happening now. The same Holy Spirit who inspired, ignited and empowered the church in Acts is at work amongst us today. As we draw closer to God lets also ask God to empower us with his fullness to live in the world and to witness like the early church—dare you pray that prayer?

Mat

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