"You shall live"

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Valley of the dry bones

Minister’s Letter

Ezekiel 37. 4-5

Prophesy to these bones and say to them, “Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breathenter you, and you shall live.”

Dear friends,

What on earth is going on?

I find myself asking that question quite a lot at the moment. You see, we are constantly being told that the church is in decline, that we have been declining if not dying for the last 100 years. All the conferences I go to, all the books I read, all come with a shared understanding that we are living in a post Christian society, where the church is side lined,
dismissed, written off as a relic from a bygone era.

So what on earth is going on? For if the church is so much in decline why is it that at our Christingle service this year we had more families coming to worship than ever before? So much so that it was standing room only. Why is it that at our re-opened parent and toddler group, so many Mums are coming and enjoying the fellowship that we may have to move out of the small hall? Why is it that we had 57 people to our Messy Church in January, when we usually have half that number? Why is it that people are searching and looking for life in the church, when we have been told that the church is out of touch and has nothing to offer the present generation?

So what on earth, or rather what in heaven is going on? Maybe those outside of the church are recognizing something that we as the church have forgotten, namely that we follow the one who has the words of eternal life! Not the words of decline and death, rather life and life in all its fullness. I believe as we allow ourselves to listen to those words and let them shape our lives so Christ is re-moulding his church to give life again and be good news in our world. Where the Church is living and proclaiming the love and grace of Christ,  life is wonderfully bubbling up. People are attracted to the church when they see an authentic faith being lived out, especially one that offers hope, purpose and grace today.

Ezekiel reminds us as he speaks God’s word to the dry bones, that we have good news to share, words that can bring life to people who are searching for meaning, words of hope for those who despair at the way our world is going, words of joy to those feeling empty, words of love to all who are fearful and anxious.

As we enter into Lent and travel to Easter it would be easy to use this time for further introspection, to look to the prophets (who are often full of warning and judgement) to chastise us in this season, to make us feel guilty that as churches we have been declining. Rather let us listen to the prophet Ezekiel who reminds us that God’s word is not doom and despair it is – ‘You shall live!’ Surely that is the message for our churches to be proclaiming in our communities, among our neighbours and friends –‘You shall live!’

For Jesus comes to bring life to this world and our task is to live out that life in blessing many.

With every blessing

Alan

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