+Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury
Many years ago I lived in a town where there was a very active church indeed. Outside this church was an enormous noticeboard. It seemed every moment of the week was taken up by activity and I have no doubt it was a very good church ...and loving parish. And yet that notice board used to worry me and it still does. It seems to me it speaks of an idea of the church which supposes that the church is about human beings doing things. When you looked at that church you would have thought, what a lot of things they do there. But I'm still wondering if anyone ever asked, does God do things here? It seemed to be just a slight risk that there was hardly any room in the week for God to find his way in among all these activities.
...When you come through that door … perhaps it should not be with the thought, what must I do. First be the thought what is Jesus doing here, how do I become part of it. Perhaps we should come into this church as we step into the sea or a swimming pool. Here I step into the ocean of Jesus praying, Jesus alive, Jesus mediating with the Father. Perhaps just as I learned to swim I can be carried along by the depth of the prayer with Jesus...
...We go out having listened to the word and celebrated the sacrament and we begin to hear something else in the world, we being to hear the words and the prayer of Jesus, we begin to see the love of Jesus around us. And we ask the same question we ask when we come through that door, how do I join in. How in he world around how do I cast myself into the flood of action that is Jesus' life and work with him in the world.
Who knows whether we will make a success of it or not. And yet that prayer that life goes on. St Paul is very realistic about this. He knows that some of what we build will not be worth saving in God's eyes. Some of it is in gold and silver and some of it is in hay and straw. Yet God's work goes on and God's foundation is never destroyed.
My hope and my prayer for this church and congregation is this: may it be a place about which people say, Jesus is alive there. ..And may the notice board outside never be too crowded. I know some of you want to fill this good activity for the sake of God. But I know too that you will want to leave space for God to work himself and God to be honored !
This is certainly food for thought as we approach Lent. It does seem to go against the grain! Many people would judge a church's sucess by numbers and activities offered forgeting that it is the activity of God's Holy Spirit which produces change and gives life! That is not as easy to quantify, nor post in an activities board.
Help us Lord not to be so busy that we schedule you out of our lives, hearts and your church!