This year is a big one for a number of reasons and for a number of people and organisations. Not least amongst these is the Queen, our reigning monarch, reaching the age of 90 - something which will be celebrated in our churches and across the country later this month. The Christian Publishing and Outreach Company have produced a lovely book, ‘The Servant Queen and the King She serves’, about her faith and dedication to duty. I recommend it. That’s a fabulous title which gives a clue to the inspiration she is to us all. Her faith provides a rock
and a foundation to all she does and has done for so many years. Whether or not you are a royalist, you have to admire and salute her record of service and be inspired by her dedication. The faith that sustains her offers a lesson to us all.
In addition, this year marks another anniversary celebration. It concerns the Mothers Union - an organisation that I belong to, which is close to my heart and which is 140 years old this year. Now, before all the men, younger women and others groan inwardly and turn over the page – stop! Do not suppose that the Mothers Union is about nothing more than making tea at church functions, or a group of women meeting together to listen to a speaker and then have tea and cakes. There is far more to it than that! It is about Christian caring for families worldwide in its broadest terms. More specifically, it is about seeing and responding to those in need and adversity, about upholding Christian teaching on love and family life and about rooting all in a foundation of prayer. This manifests itself in literacy and numeracy projects in some of the poorer areas of the world, in responding quickly to emergencies and in working in prisons, schools and contact centres. It is about knitting teddies for children injured in road accidents and those in refugee camps, about providing little caps for neo-natal babies, clothes and toiletries for women’s refuges and emergency toilet bags for those who are unexpectedly admitted to hospital. It is about campaigning in this country to raise awareness of the gradual sexualisation of children in clothing, advertising, TV portrayal and more. It rallies its members in lobbying government to review and make new policy. It voices issues concerning women and children at the United Nations and much, much, more.
It is, in essence, about living a Christian life in prayer and service, rather like the Queen and many others who profess themselves as Christians. I’ve recently read the results of a worldwide survey asking people why they are members and I want to share some of its findings with you. They make interesting reading, particularly if you read them in the light of the questions: “why are you a member of … (whatever) church?” Or “why are you a Christian?” I wonder if your replies would be the same or similar? Here’s a very quick summary.
Many replied that they were members because they thought Mothers Union was a way of life, a way of showing and sharing their faith in an active rather than a passive way, not just locally but internationally. They value its support for a variety of projects both near and far, small and large, whilst keeping prayer at the core of and underpinning everything. It provides friendship and opportunities to learn, opportunities to deepen spiritual life, opportunities to serve and to grow. Could the same be said of our membership of the Church, I wonder? We have just had Pentecost, when we celebrated the Birthday of the Church, so let us make this coming year one to celebrate our membership and grow the Church of God in this place. Now there’s a challenge!!
Til next time…