Summary: Are we putting anyone off God?
“Father Mund, If someone didn’t know you were a vicar and didn’t know you went to church, how would they know you were a Christian?”
“Father Mund - have you ever said or done something that would have put someone off becoming a Christian?”
“Father Mund, have you ever stopped someone from doing something in church because they weren’t part of the in crowd, because their face didn’t fit?”
Don’t you just hate it when someone asks you difficult questions - especially when it is not just [the people who read the questions above] - but God asking the difficult questions. Which he frequently does in his Word the bible….
Well, I’m going to start with the third question because it is the one I am least embarrassed about answering (always good tactic when someone asks you a set of difficult questions - answer the one they are comfortable with and hope they forget the other ones)
“Have I ever stopped someone from doing something in Church because they weren’t part of the in crowd, because their face didn’t fit?”
“Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him because he was not following us. But Jesus said “Do not stop him, for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterwards to speak evil of me. Whoever is not against us is for us” (Mark 9:38-39)
It’s amazing how Jesus can say something plain and simple to us, and we can spend hundreds of years ignoring it…
On Good Friday each year, we process up Northalla Hill with a bunch of baptists, Anglicans, and Methodists. The Methodists are lovely people, and every year after the walk they give us hot cross buns in their church hall.
The Methodists are lovely people … but they don’t need to exist. The only reason the Methodist Church exists because we Anglicans said “You may be doing things in Jesus name, but you are not doing them in a proper Church of England way, so we are going to kick you out”
John Wesley travelled the country up and down 18th century England telling people about Jesus. He preached to people who had never before heard about God’s love for them. He would literally stand outside the factory gates and preach to the folks as they were coming out of work. Wherever possible he would work with the local vicar, preaching in the Church and being loyal. But if the vicar would not work with him, he would still preach at the factory gates because people needed to hear about Jesus and “the world is my parish”. John Wesley organised class meetings and preaching services for the Methodists, but for all his life he refused to let them hold Communion services because they should go to communion in their local Anglican Church. But the Methodist style in which rough uncouth miners and factory workers were dramatically coThe Methodists are lovely people … but they don’t need to exist. The only reason the Methodist Church exists because we Anglicans said “You may be doing things in Jesus name, but you are not doing them in a proper Church of England way, so we are going to kick you out”
But it’s not just in the 18th Century. I spoke to one friend who had to be in a church for about 5 or 6 years before she was allowed to do anything “oh you are too new - you have to become properly known to the congregation before you can do anything”. In another parish, we started having some very talented lay people deacon the mass and occasionally preach. Instantly uproar from other parts of the congregation - “they shouldn’t be allowed to do that, that’s the vicar’s job”.
On Tuesday I went to the open evening at William Perkin, and saw a beautiful thing. During the talk Dame Alice not only spoke about the school but demonstrated the types of prayers with which the school would begin and end every day. Here was a bunch of parents and children from non-religious or Hindu or Muslim backgrounds being invited to take part in a very Christian School. I know from Fr Chris Hill at St Mary’s Northolt of one teenager (now confirmed) who brought his family to start coming to church because of the experience of William Perkin. Yet I also know of a lot of Christians who moan “why are we providing places at a Christian school to non-church goers”
God isn’t interested in ticking the box of every rule. God isn’t interested about whether people hold the right role. Not rules, not rules but a right attitude to Jesus, that’s what Jesus is interested in.
“Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him because he was not following us. But Jesus said “Do not stop him, for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterwards to speak evil of me. Whoever is not against us is for us”