Lent blog: Day 37 – UNLESS THE LORD BUILDS THE HOUSE

Published Wed, 31/03/2021 by

The home page of our Parish website declares:

We exist to worship and glorify God,

To take up the call of Christ,

To share the spirit of love and truth with everyone.

In a previous blog (#33) I wrote about the helpfulness of a personal mission statement.  The Parish Mission Statement above was corporately formulated in the aftermath of a Parish Mission held in 2009.  A representative group of perhaps a dozen or more parishioners met in the church room to attempt to bottle the essence of what we should take forward from our graced experience of renewal.  With a facilitator to assist it took us a whole evening.  There wasn’t any division between us, but time was needed for a balanced consensus to emerge which could stand as our Parish Mission Statement.  It was thought very important, I recall, that the last word ‘everyone’ should be underlined, to stress our inclusive intent.

I’m struck re-reading our Parish Mission Statement by how closely it follows Bishop Patrick’s mandate to the Diocese in his Pastoral Letter of 4th November 2018, in which he wrote: “the spiritual foundation for the diocese that I would like to see put firmly in place over the next three years is three-fold:  ENCOUNTERDISCIPLESHIP and MISSIONARY DISCIPLESHIP”.  He went on to say: “I’m convinced this will help us to face and respond better to the challenges we face as a diocese.  Why?  Because we will be seeking to know and do God’s will for our diocese and, as we know, “unless the Lord build the house, in vain do its builders labour”.

As we move cautiously to emerge from the past year when, like so many churches and so much of society, we have been closed more than open, we have to have a clear sense of what we are about.  It cannot be just business as usual, the past resumed as if nothing has happened.  God never changes, but the world around us has changed, and each of us too.  It’s not very productive wasting time regretting this: it is simply a fact.  We have to begin by encountering God (and each other) afresh.  For as the Bishop presciently pointed out, unless we do, we will labour in vain.

MICHAEL KIRKHAM