Monday, 9 September 2019

Going to Church is
not always about being
cosy and comfortable

Street art in Rethymnon in Crete … Sunday 1 September marks the beginning of Creation Season (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018)

Patrick Comerford

In Church yesterday, we had two choices about which Gospel reading we were going to read.

One reading (Luke 1: 46-55) was the response of the Virgin Mary, the words, she said to the Angel Gabriel, when she heard that the news that she was going to be the mother of Jesus.

Now you might expect a young mum-to-be to start thinking about things like:

Have we got a room ready where the baby can sleep?
How am I going to feed the baby?
Will the baby be happy and healthy?
Will I be able to give this baby enough love and care?
Will this baby be healthy and happy and grow up and have a happy, long life?

Instead, Mary talks about other things.

She talks about how good God has been to her, how blessed she is, how good God has been to her family for a long, long time.

And she talks about God’s promises: that he is going to make the proud humble; that world rulers who abuse their power are going to lose that power; that people who have been put down and oppressed are going to receive God’s blessings; that the hungry are going to be fed and the rich are going to lose everything.

The second reading (Luke 14: 25-33) is very challenging, very difficult, because Jesus talks about times when children turn away from the parents, brothers and sisters are fighting with one another, and the leaders of the nations are planning to go to war with one another.

These are very difficult Gospel readings.

But then going to church should not always be about feeling cosy and comfortable.

Sometimes we need to be challenged.

And we live in very challenging times.

The church is calling this time of the year the Season of Creation.

It began the Sunday before last (1 September) and continues until 4 October, which is the Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi, when we are having our Harvest Thanksgiving Service in Askeaton.

The world faces great problems today: rulers who abuse power and plan wars; masses of people going hungry while a few get richer and richer; refugees abandoned in the sea; ice melting from our glaciers; changes in the weather; and so on.

But dealing with great problems, like learning to walk, starts with small steps.

And one small step that is being suggested in the churches this week comes as a question:

Can you remove single-use plastics from your life? Buy a reusable water bottle and reusable coffee cup. Say no to plastic straws and food wrapping.

Could I leave that idea with you this morning?

This reflection was shared at a school assembly on Monday 9 September 2019.

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