Saturday, May 14, 2011

Good fruits

today's Gospel reading from the RCL is Matthew 7.15-27




In today's Gospel Jesus tells us that a good tree bears good fruit and a bad tree bad fruit. I wonder what he thinks of the fruit that we are producing today? The Church of Ireland is having it's General Synod  Armagh at this time. Yesterday one of the speakers, the Archdeacon of Tuam, Gary Hastings, said we were facing a 'crisis in slow motion' in relation to church decline. Is this a good fruit? Where does our own responsibility lie for this - is it all about societal change? After all, all faiths and denominations are facing challenges. But if we have become marginalised and perceived as irrelevant surely some of the blame rests with us? Had we become too comfortable and inward looking, assured of our position?

The archdeacon talks of the past trend whereby young people would be confirmed and fall away only to return later when they had children of their own. But this is happening less and less.  the link has been broken. When people go now they just go. Should we ever have accepted such a pattern? From talking to the clergy of other denominations I know this problem is not unique to the the Church of Ireland. And it means that a large proportion of the members of all churches are middle-aged and elderly. What does it say about our Church that this is the age profile of those to whom we are the natural home? And fewer of those people than in times past. 

Can such a church change and become the home of all generations? I hope & pray so. I want there to be somewhere for my grand-children, should I be blessed with them, to learn and grow and worship. I want that for all those who are part of the church. I want to be able to look back in my old age, if God should spare me that long, and see that I was part of something that produced good fruit. And I want that all the members of God's Church to be able to look back and see that too.

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