Reflection Paper

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There is an adage about preaching which says that the best preachers are those that carry the bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other. It is an adage I try to adhere to as I prepare what I am going to say every week, and one that I hope comes through in my words. But this week I have felt the newspaper in my hand become a great deal heavier than it often is. In a week that has seen so many shootings and cases of gun violence in our nation, reports that global temperatures continue to rise with the warmest July ever recorded, so many people wounded and killed in terrorist attacks in Paris and Bangkok, and the reminder that after 4 and a half horror filled years the civil war in Syria is still ongoing and seems to have no end in sight,…show more content…
What I wish to draw from this is that one of the reasons we struggle to square our experience of faith and church with the world around us is that, unlike the disciples that in our reading from John stayed with Jesus, the Church is still all too often dependent on signs for faith, rather than bearers of a faith that is a sign in itself. Or put another way, we still seek the light on the hill, rather than being the light ourselves. The problem with this is that it means we generally look more to the newspaper for signs that God is out there and worthy of faith, than we do to the story of Jesus Christ for inspiration and deepening of the faith that exists within us. As a consequence, a week like that past, and so many before it, lead us to wonder if there even is a God rather than asking how might God be at work in this, how might God be going about making this wrong right? And that is a question that the modern Church, indeed the Church for a good part of its history has struggled to ask, but one that is a spring of inspiration for faith to become a sign. The life of the early Church is perhaps the best example of this. According to the American sociologist of religion Rodney Stark “Christianity revitalized life in Greco-Roman cities by providing new norms and new kinds of social relationships able to cope with many urgent urban problems. To cities filled with the homeless and the impoverished, Christianity offered charity as well as hope. To cities filled with newcomers and strangers, Christianity offered an immediate basis for attachments. To cities filled with orphans and widows, Christianity provided a new and expanded sense of family. To cities torn by violent ethnic strife, Christianity offered a new basis for social solidarity.” The way that the Church responded to the strife of Greco-Roman cities speaks to the sociological signs of the faith that was within them. Christians offered charity and hope to
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