Sunday, 23 April 2017

Easter faith - what comes next?

One of the features of the Church’s Year which I try to avoid having after Easter is the Annual Parochial Church Meeting - and with it what used to be called the Easter Vestry. They’re both very necessary - the APCM to look back over our last 12 months and forward as we elect members of the Parochial Church Council and Deanery Synod representatives; the Annual Vestry (as we name it now) for the election of those critically essential people, the Church Wardens. We’re well served by all - thanks to all who have served during the last year and for those who will move us forward in the months to come. It’s not the meeting itself that causes me the problem when it falls after Easter - it’s all the paperwork, which can sap the energy even when it’s done electronically!

But it’s all done! Except there’s always more to be done… St. Paul wisely wrote that some disciples had the “gift of administration.” Such people are to be treasured along with those who exhibit pastoral skills, who can preach, sing, lead worship and evangelise. The problem is nearly everyone (certainly of who are ordained) seems expected to have it these days.

So reading the Acts of the Apostles as we do in the days and weeks after Easter is always a corrective for Christians in general and clergy in particular who feel that they are losing their way in discipleship and mission. It shows the early days of the Church. Without the physical presence of Jesus which they’d previously relied on, how were the first Christians to move forwards? There are instances of courageous preaching, effective evangelism, miraculous healings and astonishing conversions. But also the need for planning; for plotting a course - sometimes in the midst of disagreement; for people who would take on the care of others and folks who would just do their best to keep everybody together. And all of it undergirded by prayer - knowing Jesus’ promise to be with his people to the end of time, strengthened and guided as we are by the Holy Spirit.

The Acts of the Apostles is a rather neglected book - find it straight after the Gospels. And ask - what is it saying to you?                                

Martin Jackson

Saturday, 8 April 2017