Queen's counsel XIII

September 2002

The two modules that we studied during the last term of our first year at Queen's College were much more practically oriented than in the previous terms and were leading us towards ministry in the real world.

The first module went under the name of "Context for theology, mission and ministry" and sought to explore where we are now as a society, as a church, and what we can learn from a study of biblical times both from the Old and New Testaments.  One of our goals was to examine our local context and this, you may remember, led to me offering a questionnaire to stimulate thought on where we thought we were.

I am grateful for the answers that I received formally and also for the comments that people made to me in conversation, so thank you all for that.  Here's a wee flavour of the replies: some attend regular Sunday worship from a sense of duty and belonging; we come together every week to receive spiritual nourishment and insights to help us in our lives, which would certainly not be the same without our regular prayer and worship.

Others found the questions direct and challenging - this fits in with today's culture where everything has to be effective, meaningful and accessible.  However, there is always a tension between what makes sense in human terms and what God's kingdom demands from a divine perspective.  The Gospels record the lengths that Jesus took to explore this with his prayer, his healing acts, his teaching and his life.  They make it clear what our priorities should be and our continuing task is to interpret his message to speak to our own situations and opportunities.

Our Archbishop elect, Dr. Rowan Williams is quoted as saying that "if there's one thing I long for above all else, it’s that the years to come may see Christianity in this country able again to capture the imagination of our culture."  In other words, the church has to find ways of being in the midst and responding to what society needs most in spiritual terms.

Years ago, St. Mark recalls a couple of stories that challenged the Jewish Church with their rather strict Sabbath laws.  His disciples pick corn on the Sabbath; Jesus clearly does not stop them.  When the Pharisees complain, Jesus says: "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath" (Mark 2:27).  Again on the Sabbath, Jesus cures the man with the withered hand and says: "Is it against the law on the Sabbath day to do good, or to do evil; to save life, or to kill?" (Mark 3:4).  Both stories encourage us to consider the context as we live out the gospel in our daily lives.  So with our Lord, let us pray:

Thy kingdom come,
on earth as it is in heaven…

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This page was last updated on 2002-07-31

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