Skip to main content

Covering our ears

Isaiah 30.1-11, 18
The membership of the Methodist Church has declined over the last 12 years from around 300,000 to about 190,000. This decline comes against the background of a similar decline in other Churches and in Christian allegiance in general.
People have wondered why. Perhaps we haven’t worked hard enough. Perhaps we haven’t been listening for God’s guidance. Perhaps we have lacked faith.
Isaiah offers another explanation. We have been listening, but we didn’t want to hear what God has been saying to us. We were like my little brother who, when he didn’t want to hear something, would cover his ears and try to drown out the sound.
‘Don’t tell us the truth,’ we have thought to ourselves. ‘Just say what we want to hear, even if it’s false. We don’t want to hear any more’ about the more challenging way we ought to be going.
We shouldn’t be too hard on ourselves. The truth can be difficult and uncompromising. It can be hard to swallow. It can be much easier to take comfort in old certainties, traditional  answers, and the way we have always done things. But then we find ourselves wondering why churches are shrinking rather than growing. ‘Don’t tell us the truth,’ we think, ‘Just let us hear what we want to hear, even if it’s false.’
Yet Isaiah also has a message of hope. We don’t have to be stuck in this dead end. ‘The Lord God is waiting to show how kind he is and to have pity on us. The Lord always… blesses those who trust him.’
It’s never too late to face up to the truth and seek to move on. If we trust God to show how kind he is, and to have pity on us, and to bless us we can surely find the courage we will need to on venture to new ground and try new things, to allow God to reinvent us.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

I don't believe in an interventionist God

Matthew 28.1-10, 1 Corinthians 15.1-11 I like Nick Cave’s song because of its audacious first line: ‘I don’t believe in an interventionist God’. What an unlikely way to begin a love song! He once explained that he wrote the song while sitting at the back of an Anglican church where he had gone with his wife Susie, who presumably does believe in an interventionist God - at least that’s what the song says. Actually Cave has always been very interested in religion. Sometimes he calls himself a Christian, sometimes he doesn’t, depending on how the mood takes him. He once said, ‘I believe in God in spite of religion, not because of it.’ But his lyrics often include religious themes and he has also said that any true love song is a song for God. So maybe it’s no coincidence that he began this song in such an unlikely way, although he says the inspiration came to him during the sermon. The vicar was droning on about something when the first line of the song just popped into his head. I suspect …

True Love

Mark 12:28-34 In 1981 Prince Charles was put on the spot during a television interview with Lady Diana Spencer, his new fiancee. The interviewer asked them if they were in love. Lady Diana’s instant response was , ‘Of course!,’ but Prince Charles replied, ‘Whatever “in love” means.’ Now in case you think Prince Charles is just a bit of a cold fish, on National Poetry Day 2015 he read a poem on Radio 4, ‘My love is like a red, red rose’ by Robbie Burns. I thought, ‘This is going to be a bit wooden,’ but I was wrong. He read the poem so movingly that Clarence House has made it available on YouTube and Twitter. Listening to him it was impossible to escape the conclusion that he now knows what being “in love” means. O my Love is like a red, red rose, That's newly sprung in June: O my Love is like the melody, That's sweetly played in tune. As fair art thou, my bonnie lass, So deep in love am I; And I will love thee still, my dear, Till a' the seas gang dry. But what does being “in …

Why are good people tempted to do wrong?

Deuteronomy 30.15-20, Psalm 119.1-8, 1 Corinthians 3.1-4, Matthew 5.21-37 Why are good people tempted to do wrong? Sometimes we just fall from the straight and narrow and do mean, selfish or spiteful things. But sometimes we convince ourselves that we’re still good people even though we’re doing something wrong. We tell ourselves that there are some people whose motives are totally wicked or self-regarding: criminals, liars, cheats, two-timers, fraudsters, and so on, but we are not that kind of person. We’re basically good people who just indulge in an occasional misdemeanour. So, for example, there’s Noble Cause Corruption, a phrase first coined apparently in 1992 to explain why police officers, judges, politicians, managers, teachers, social workers and so on sometimes get sucked into justifying actions which are really totally wrong, but on the grounds that they are doing them for a very good reason. A famous instance of noble cause corruption is the statement, by the late Lord Denni…