This past week, Fr. Kevin, Fr. Matthew and I gathered with clergy colleagues from across our diocese for a conference in Whistler entitled: Rekindling the Christian Imagination.
Our speaker, The Revd. Jay Coyle, quoted this in his opening session with us on Monday evening: “It’s a poor sort of memory that only works backwards” from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. Jay was speaking to us about the hope that is in us as Christians and reminding us to remember that hope, which is to come into the Kingdom of God.
This got me thinking about the things that we hope for in terms of the way we want the Kingdom of God to look and how it might differ from what God has in mind. What do you imagine when you think about God’s Kingdom here on Earth? What do you think of when you imagine the return of Christ?
I have to say that my mind drifts towards the Book of Revelation and its apocalyptic imagery. I then come back to here at St. James’ and consider where the Kingdom of God is present. I see it in you. I see it in the way you welcome strangers and newcomers into our midst. I hear it in your stories and witness it come into being in our ministry as a baptised people as we work for social justice, to have hard conversations and to assist those in need.
There is a lot of talk about declining attendance in churches in North America. The church is often criticised for past failures and it can be hard to face the past, making it hard to face the future! However here in this place, we are not focussed on “bums on seats,” we are focussed on deepening our faith and walking with Jesus.
I hear some of you express worry that we are not growing. The opposite is true. We are growing. The Spirit of God is at work here among us: I believe that all we need do is listen for it, continue to invite and welcome people to it, and God will do the rest. All things are possible with God. This week take some time to remember the future God has promised. It is a very hopeful thought.