Helen Kirk: January 2016
I recently showed a group of schoolchildren around one of our circuit churches. At the end of the 'tour' the children asked me all the usual questions. They pointed at fixtures and fittings. They asked what various things were for. They pointed at my neck and asked why I wore a 'dog collar'. — the name is usually enough to cause fits of giggles at the thought of an adult wearing a canine accessory! But the best question came from a boy who simply asked- 'Why is the church here?' Why indeed!
There are reasons that relate to the history of Methodism; others that concern the prominent local families who built that particular chapel but there is a far more fundamental question for all churches. Why are we here? What purpose does the church serve in the villages and towns where our buildings reside?
The church is far more than any building. The church is first and foremost a community; a community of faith who seek in worship to recognise the presence of God in all things and to follow the teachings of Jesus. Therefore we are far more than a social club; we are about hope and love, tolerance and forgiveness, justice, reconciliation and peace. We are a community who celebrates life and birth and new beginnings as we meet together around a table to share food whether it be tea and cake; soup and sandwiches; bread and wine.
But because we have as our model a love that is eternal we are a community that is not afraid to deal with the big issues of life; to talk of pain and fear; death and suffering as we know One whose presence is constant. And in these ways we link the past to the present and offer hope for the future. We are a transformative community that seeks to subvert all that holds and binds human beings bringing release and freedom; a community willing to sacrifice itself for the love of others for that is what Jesus did.
What is the church here for? It here for you whether you come in need or joy; whether you believe or don't; the church is that community that exists for anyone who does not yet belong. So why are we here? We are here for you.
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