Last week we had a great afternoon in the Festival Centre, celebrating Christ Church on Songs of Praise. I have to admit that this was only the second time I had ever seen the programme. But, watching it back it was amazing to see how great our church looked on the TV. We can all be immensely proud of the work that we have done in Christ Church over the last years. Years ago, perhaps people would say that they came to Christ Church in hushed whispers as we were the centre of controversy and despair.
We should be proud of what God has done through us in this Church. God works through his people but we have to say yes to him. At the end of May we celebrate the feast of the Visitation of Mary. This is where Mary goes to see her cousin Elizabeth and she recognises Jesus in the womb of Mary. But that is not the beginning of the story, first Mary is visited by an angel who asks her if Jesus can be born within her. Mary says yes and Jesus is born within her, it is later after she says yes that Elizabeth recognises Jesus in Mary.
On Songs of Praise we can recognise the work of God in our church, why? Because we as a community have said yes to God. The deeper change within our hearts has brought about the physical changes we see. If we say yes to God the fruit of that is peace, patience and love. It is these fruits and others that we see in our church. But it is up to us to say yes. If we say no to God and behave in negative ways, ways which we all can from time to time, people will recognise that negativity too. Saying yes to God is hard work but it is also joyful work too. Behaving in positive ways nurturing goodness in ourselves and each other makes us feel more alive. Nurturing goodness brings peace, patience and love. Nurturing evil brings gossip, resentment and indifference. It is because we have as a community nurtured goodness that we can feel joyful and proud of what God is doing in our church.
I’ll end with the words of St Paul, it is because we love each other and our community that God can be seen within us.
‘Love is patient, love is kind, love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It doesn’t insist on its own way, it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing but rejoices in truth. It bears all things hopes all things, believes all things, endures all things. Love never ends’.
(1 Corinthians 13 v4-8)