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Discipleship means a shift

I appreciate that many consider the word 'discipleship' as a bit of a hackneyed word, perhaps in the same breath the word 'mission' would also be seen as over-used OR as one person said to me 'A bit of an Americanism vicar.' But, am I off the mark to suggest that it is one thing to believe in Jesus of Nazareth and another to follow? I don't mean that there is a first and second class Christian or as some might argue Christians who are born-again and those who are not. Rather, I am think that to follow the Lord closely involves a series of shifts. These shifts are movements of the heart and leaps of faith. When we are moved .. we move.

There seem to be two equally valid starting points, what St Ignatius of Loyola called the consolation and the desolation. We might call this carrot and stick. The stick is that sense that all is not well. Like an alcoholic beginning the journey of recovery we come to acknowledge that our live has become unmanageable. The consolation can be a sense of the wonder of the things of God. These are the starting points, the shifts we need to make to accept a deeper priority for God.

The liturgies speak of Jesus as a saviour. However, to much of modern life this goes against the grain and is deeply unpalatable. To modern ears this religious language seems primitive and demeaning - though nice to listen to in terms of classical music. Likewise, modernity with its emphasis on the trivial and business drowns out our ability to see and hear the wonders of God's handiwork. We miss his fingerprints even though they are all over creation because our spiritual senses have become dull.

So Good Friday must seem to many outside the religious world as a very antique event. It has become largely an extra bank holiday. Taking a cross through the streets gets us some very funny looks. One man exclaimed "That thing looks dangerous vicar!" With unusual quick wit (I'm not normally quick of the mark) I shouted back "Yes, it has conquered the world."

But, I am not worried if only a few believe this. We are after all what St Paul said, stewards of the mysteries of God. In these times our task is to keep those mysteries alive in ourselves and our churches. God will do the rest.

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