I am new to the URC and have already been blessed by my experience of a Christian denomination and tradition that, if I’m honest, I didn’t know much about before. One of the things that has really made an impression on me has been the ‘creation story’ of the URC. Nearly fifty years ago two branches of the Church in England came together to create something new. I imagine this was not an easy process for many people, even with a sense of pressing need that something had to be done and the ecumenical vision for the Church to be more united. But you did it.
Bringing two different groups together, trying to unite them, requires a certain amount of sacrifice on all sides. Everyone needs to be willing to give things up, to let go of things that have probably been precious and important to them. This is especially so in the context of faith and worship where our practices and habits connect directly with our own experience of God.
Letting go of important (even holy) practices and ideas is nothing new in the history of the Church. The first Jewish Christians had to do the same as they tried to work out what it might look like for a lot of non-Jews to follow Jesus. They accepted huge change around what was considered spiritually correct or holy, for example in relation to circumcision (Acts 15), for the sake of the faith of the new believers.
‘Giving something up’ is a common personal practice during Lent, it can be a helpful way to focus more on God. Perhaps we could do something similar in our congregational life? Are there things (certain habits, practices or ideas – things that might be precious, important, or even holy) that it might be helpful to give up, or let go of, because they may be things that get in the way of other people finding their place with God?
I wonder what might we be willing to let go of, or change, for the sake of the children, young people, visitors, searchers, friends or strangers who we want to know the love of God? This is not easy, in fact it can be extremely difficult and painful sometimes. But a willingness to ‘let go’ was part of the birth of the URC and is still vital today for our ongoing life and worship and for the faith of new people coming to Christ.
(Children and Youth Team)