Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Why a Parish?

According to Canon 35: Parochial Government, the Canon that describes the rules around how a parish in our diocese ought to operate says that the, “purpose of a parish is to live the plurality of the Christian identity within the Anglican Communion.”

Well let’s start with the “Christian identity.” The thing that identifies a person as a Christian is not belief in God or Jesus. A Christian is not identified by their behavior or good deeds either. We hope that Christians believe in God and Jesus, and perform good deeds. What makes a person a Christian is their commitment to Jesus Christ. As our Baptismal service asks presenters, do you accept, trust and obey Jesus Christ?

To be “within the Anglican Communion” is no small matter. And it is not simply an association with the Archbishop of Canterbury. It means that we are not a rogue parish, making up our own mind about all sorts of matters of doctrine and piety, but that we live within a delicate web of association of Anglican people. It means that we hold memory, reason and skill in balance with the directing of the Holy Spirit.

And “to live” is not just a matter of survival; it is to be on the outer edge of the envelope, seeking the new thing God promises for every generation. It is not necessarily safe or comfortable, but it can be life-giving and exciting. We are not seeking to live outside of our Christian identity; nor are we ignorant of the benefits of the correction and council of our fellow Anglicans; but within the blend of all that, we can seek to show the transforming love of God in all we do.

Annual meetings can get bogged down in numbers and an assessment of what we lack. I hope not, but it can happen. Annual meetings, like every other meeting can be an opportunity to consider the edge of faith and where God might be pushing us. Please come to the Annual meeting and be the one, if we need it, to push us out of a rut and help us to truly live the purpose of a parish.

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