WHETHER Christian or another religion, or none, the Church has been in the news recently — and, for a change,
WHETHER Christian or another religion, or none, the Church has been in the news recently — and, for a change, not with the unsavoury dealings of some clergy and ministers.
Most recently there has been the news that Pope Benedict XVI is to retire.
Some commentators who should know better have made exaggerated statements about the significance of a papal retirement, but it is nevertheless the first time this has happened voluntarily for more than six centuries.
The Holy Father is to move to the quietness of a convent within Vatican City.
Within the Church of England (where retirement is a mere change of title and certainly does not stop the use of the vocal chords!) a new archbishop has been confirmed.
This man has been a bishop for less than a year and had been an executive in the oil industry (perhaps the College of Cardinals in Rome should beware of what they wish and pray for in the candidates for election as the next Pontiff).
Archbishop Justin Welby has taken on a seemingly impossible task — to reunite a deeply divided church in the midst of arguments about women bishops, gay marriage and so on.
In the meantime, our Members of Parliament have had their first say on one of the most divisive issues in our nation’s social consciousness — and have at the same time completely ignored what the Established church has had to say.
But then why should they take notice of anything the Church of England says (I’m not sure whether Parliament has any competence to legislate for the Church in Wales as it was disestablished from the State in the early 20th century but no doubt someone will put me to rights at some time)?
And now, this week, we have started the season of Lent.
You might not even have noticed the commencement of this wonderful time in the Church’s year, the six weeks which reflect the 40 days of preparation Jesus spent in the wilderness before he began his public ministry and now lead us into the terrifying events of Good Friday and the glory and joy of the resurrection.
The news may suggest that the Church is inward-looking and only concerned with its own existence and continuance.
The reality is far from this — the Church exists to help us all prepare for the wonder and awe of eternal life, life lived in love.
Amid the awfulness of the news, the Church should be, and is, concerned with the awesomeness of the love of God, shown in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.
This Lent, try to find the love of your God in the life of Christ and enjoy the 40 days — no, a whole life long, of preparation for glory.