Thursday, December 12, 2013

Selling Records


This is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou? And he confessed and denied not, and said plainly, I am not the Christ.  
 And they asked him, What art thou then? Art thou Elias? And he said, I am not. Art thou the prophet?  And he answered, No.
 Then said they unto him, What art thou? that we may give an answer unto them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself? And he said, I am the voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord.
 Gibbons lovely anthem always appeals to me, especially at this time of the year. It’s an anthem I’ve sung many times and thoroughly enjoyed for its power and clarity, yet its elegance and intricacy. It’s a truly Anglican piece.

The words are those of St John the Baptist. This is an interview with the priests and Levites to ascertain who he is. St John, in typical fashion, is simply not concerned about himself at all. He knows that promoting his identity is not the agenda he has been given. He is to be faithful to the task, and indeed he is faithful to the task, of promoting the One Who Comes After. Nothing else matters. He is happy to remain poor and in the wilderness, unkempt, making do with what little fare there is outside the big cities with their flashing lights and smoky streets. He simply baptises those who come to him and preaches repentance of sins for the coming Kingdom of God.

St John is the last prophet of the Old Testament. He points to the coming New Testament and does not waver from doing so. He points to the coming Christ and prepares those who come to him for that coming Christ.

St John sets the Church a challenge, for the Church is bound to do exactly the same. Our Lord Jesus will come again, though we are told that we cannot know when. It is the job of the Church to devote its life, not in riches or fashion, not in places of comfort or luxury, but in the wilderness pointing to the coming Christ. The Church’s energies and resources are to be focussed, not on self-promotion, not advertising dates and times of services or activities, or setting out its agenda, but rather pointing out the coming Christ. The Church herself must stand and shout “make straight the way of the Lord!” with all the energy and vigor she possesses. 

To all those who come to her for guidance, she must give them God’s promised grace in the sacraments, educate them, clothe them in simplicity and love and point them, as they repent, at the Saviour for true happiness and joy.

If the Church finds herself in the wilderness and in uncomfortable places and learns to live in those places surviving on the meagre pickings, the rough surrounds, away from a more comfortable and conventional lifestyle then she is doing well. There in the wilderness, out of the influences of fad, fashion and folly, and with a clear vision of her task, her preaching of Good News, there will she see God in her purity and help so many others find Him.

How should this affect the budget for 2014?

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