Robert's Ruminations

The thoughts of Revd. Robert, Minister for Emmanuel, Ilfracombe

New Year – New Opportunities

A new year is upon us. 2018 looms very close on the horizon. A new year brings new opportunities for each of us, the church and the world.

As a Church we are well used to thinking that our job, our calling, is to reach out to those who are seeking God. Partly this is because of the empty chairs we have got used to seeing around us each Sunday and on weekdays. Partly it is a growing awareness of the deep spiritual hunger of many who have not been brought up to go to church and do not see it as a viable answer to their need. It seems that there is almost a daydream-like quality about us when we are try to imagine crowds and crowds of people from all walks of life, actively seeking us out, in order to find God and spiritual fulfilment.

I do wonder sometimes how the Church would cope with such a situation? Would we be able to help them with their search? Would we understand their questions? Would we be overjoyed to see them pouring through the doors, or would they pose a threat to our traditional way of doing things?

When we recognise that being 'a light to lighten the Gentiles' can actually be quite disturbing, we can start to understand something of the hesitation the Jewish people had about welcoming the early Christians, many of them totally 'unsynagogued'. We can also thrill to the hope of a new direction - of a Church on the grow at last. The signs are there, and the tide is turning.

Epiphany will soon be here, that time when we remember the journey of the Magi to find Jesus, and Epiphany has particular significance for us at the moment. The light of the world that the Magi sought out, which is Christ, is for everyone - all groups and nations, all cultures and ages, not just those we are familiar with or approve of, or who know 'how we do it' in our own church. Since most of us are Gentiles ourselves, the significance of Christ being shown to the Gentile 'outsiders' tends to pass us by unnoticed, unless we ask ourselves another question. 'Which 'outsiders' might those wise men represent today?

To enter into the spirit of Epiphany we need to alter our vision until we understand that God has no outsiders, and no person or group is excluded. It was God's delight to reveal his baby Son to searching pagan foreigners as well as to shepherds from the fields.

As we remember once again the story of these outsiders following the star in the sky, travelling many miles over difficult terrain in order to find for themselves the world's enlightenment, we could do well to bear in mind all those in our own times who are spiritually awake and searching, many travelling over difficult terrain, and make sure that we light the lamps, ready to welcome them.

Wishing you all a very Happy and Challenging New Year,

Rev Robert.

Silence is golden!
It’s that time of year again!


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Thursday, 23 May 2019

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