Letter from the Minister.
Rev Phil Summers
For the first time in a year I don’t have to write about Holy Habits. I can write about anything I choose; but…. it has become a bit of a habit! Even though we began looking at Holy Habits twelve months ago, we have not really come to an end. Hopefully we never will. For a habit that has ended is no longer a habit, and as we have explored together over the last year, we have discovered habits we want to keep. For something to become habitual we need to keep applying ourselves, day after day and week after week.
So, let me remind you of what we have looked at: Gladness and Generosity, Fellowship, Biblical Teaching, Sharing Resources, Serving, Prayer, Eating Together, Worship, Breaking Bread, Making More Disciples. These are the topics that Andrew Roberts developed in his book ‘Holy Habits’, which he extrapolated from a short passage in the book of Acts. If we take the idea of finding habits, patterns and rhythms that help develop our holiness then there will be many more habits we could adopt or at least a multitude of different expressions of the habits we have looked at. By the way, ‘holiness’ is just a shorthand way of describing how we live our lives with God incorporating heart, soul, mind and strength.
We have discovered, or at least revisited, the idea that the development of our relationship with God is something we do both as individuals and as a community. It is extremely difficult to develop a full, rounded and deep spirituality apart from a faithful community; at the same time the rich diversity of a church is progressed by each of its members working out their own relationship with Christ. As individuals we need to bring fresh thinking, personal prayer and devotion, and challenges to shape and strengthen the body. We are here for each other, following Jesus’ command to love one another.
In Colossians 3:15-17 St Paul is exploring Holy Habits (although he’s doesn’t call them that- he hadn’t read the book) and he says: ‘let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (NRSV)
See how many Holy Habits you can pick out of that.
It is in the living of what we have looked at over the past year that we ‘Let the peace of Christ dwell in you richly’. And that, I suppose, is very much, the goal of the Christian life. The hope that every day we live is enriched by the peace of Christ which is at the core of our being. We all have differing personalities and therefore our approaches to these things are not uniform. Some will be more attracted to solitude, some can’t wait to gather in fellowship, some find reading scripture a thrill, others a chore, some love the preparation and sharing of food, others struggle in both, for some the communion service is central to their faith, for other they can take or leave it. Some find it a simple thing to share what they have, whether that be their wealth or the name of Jesus, others find it much more of a struggle.
It is in living the Holy habits, on our own and together that we will know the peace of Christ and the love of God. Maybe next month I’ll write about something else! (maybe)