I attended a clergy seminar a few years ago where the speaker opened with a contradictory statement.
‘I loved going on holiday when I was a child.I hated going on holiday when I was a child’. Both statements were true for each holiday of his childhood years.
He loved going on holiday: he loved being at the seaside, spending days on the beach with family and friends, swimming in the sea, doing all the things that went with a family holiday in an English seaside town.
He hated going on holiday:these were the days before airline packages came within the reach of ordinary people and the holiday for his family always meant a long journey by car. He was always violently travel sick and dreaded the return journey.
He loved being on holiday, the problem was getting to the holiday; the pain was in the change.
Churches have never really come to terms with the pain of change and have never reached the place where they might be.
Reading this evening about the Church in a post-modern society, I realise that we are still firmly rooted in our medieval past. We might change the words here and there in our liturgies; we might pretend that we are trying to engage with the world; but, in terms of getting to a destination, we haven’t gone beyond the end of the street.
Some people want to remain in the past. They want medieval worship in a medieval building with a medieval understanding of the world; they construe such attitudes as being faithful.
Watching the steady decline of mainstream churches, and reflecting on Jesus’ command to go out into the world, being faithful demands that we do more than just stay where we are.
At the risk of being violently sick on the journey, we need to start out towards the destination.