Wanted! Agents for the X Factor of Grace…

This month has been a busy one already.  From weddings to baptisms, it seems August is full of wonderful ministry opportunities and the chance for me to be dressed in glorious red. 

Every priest knows that we only get one chance to spread the word at these events.  Many of us use the mission opportunities that are opened up at funerals, weddings and baptisms to the full.  When else to you get a chance to remind peeps about God and JC?  These peeps are often only coming through our doors or into the Crem for one reason only – duty, to the one who died, is getting married or being baptised. 

Duty seems to be an old-fashioned word that has raised its head once again in our Nation’s psyche along with other ancient words such as trust, respect, responsibility and honour.  After the appalling behaviour of some members of our communities, it appears that people are suddenly asking what are the reasons behind this sudden appearance of anarchy in our normally sedate British existence.  But this is not sudden. 

The actions of a few represent the unspoken frustrations of the many.  I do not condone the violence, the criminality or the sheer mindlessness of these people.  I pray that they receive the penalties that are due the crimes they have committed.  But when we live in a secular world that awards self and self achievements over responsibility and altruism to others, what else can we expect?

I wonder where are all the church and faith leaders in this?  Why aren’t we hearing from them on our news reports and in our papers?  If this isn’t an opportunity for the faiths to claim back morality for our ‘broken and sick’ society, then I don’t know what we are preaching about week in week out. 

I work for a bloke who professes love in action.  This is tough love that requires committment and responsibility to all those around us.  We have been preaching in our emptying churches for hundreds of years about the effect that putting self above others can create.  We are witnessing this on our streets and in our local shops right now.  It has to stop.  It is time for us to take back control and provide guidence over what is right and what is wrong. And we are witnessing pockets of that through communities waking up, remembering what being a part of community means and getting out to heal their damaged streets together with brushes and bin.

So did I preach at my baptism on Sunday about right and wrong and how broken our society is?  No.  That is not the way to do it.  People do not want to be told what to think or feel or do anymore.  They have no reason to trust those in supposed authority above us or even give them air time.  So we have to start claiming back that integrity, we have to begin to earn our place to be trusted again. 

By the use of ‘we’ I mean the police, politicians, priests, press-people and bankers etc.  Those in our society who have perceived authority but are trusted the least.  What can we expect when their actions are revealed to a world that now revolves around 24 hours instant news.  There is no where to hide anymore. And rightly so.  From Looters to Parlimantary Profitiers, we have to come out from the shadows, apologise, pay the price and be humble by living the truth.  It is the hard way, but then JC never said it was going to be easy.

I talked on Sunday to my lovely family, who I hope to see in church again, one day, that we in the church are Agents of Grace, we are not Judges of it.  Too many of us judge before really looking at who and why we are judging.  I will never say no to anyone who wants baptism, marriage, holy communion etc.  I have no idea what impact my opening of God’s love to that person will take them in their lives and frankly, that is not something I should be concerning myself  with.  That is up to them and God.  It is none of my business.  I have my relationship with God and I am opening a door for them to begin theirs. 

So no preaching about sin, no damnation of those who have looted, raped, murdered and pillared in our society.  Each will account for his/her actions in this world to those who maintain law and order in our society, and each will also account to his/her Maker in the next.  This World is not broken, our attitude towards it is.  We have forgotten who matters and have placed ourselves upon the altar of worship.  It is time for those in the Church and other faiths to stand up and remind people that they are loved.  For it all is simply about love.  Love of others, love of self and love of God.

The world will go on, weddings, funerals and baptisms continue.  The daily life of worry and strife never ends.  But there is a better way to deal with all of this and we, epecially those of us in the church, have a duty to begin singing our song of love once again.

But only if it is on X Factor…


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