I’m dreaming of cycling down into John O’Groats at the end of the LEJOG. I imagine the sense of achievement, and the shared elation of completing the journey. Besides being pleased to have got there in one piece and not too exhausted, there might even be a wistfulness that it is over. I might also feel pretty tired. My legs will be weary, and there could be considerable relief that I have not got to pedal any more.
That constant turning of the pedals can be seen as a metaphor for how life feels some times. The familiar routines may feel tiresome, even dull. This can be true too of the disciplines of Christian discipleship. Now perseverance is a good quality. There is significant virtue in simply keeping going. Carrying out our duties to our families and neighbours, and to God faithfully is integral to our living a good life. Yet, this loss of energy, and finding the daily rhythms ard grind, can lead to a healthy and God-given longing for renewal. Becoming aware of a lack can give us a hunger for change, a desire for more. This is good a place from which to pray to know more of God’s love, to seek transformation.
At Pentecost, the church is transformed. A cowering band of disciples becomes a courageous community. This radical change marks a new phase in God’s mission to the world. Jesus’ love and presence is known through those who follow him. Imbued by the Holy Spirit, this community incarnates God’s renewing love.
Renewal is about bringing ‘newness.’ We tend to be suspicious of the word ‘new’. After all, a new thing does not have merit simply because it is new. In the advertising world it is an overused selling point. Rightly, we want to test new ideas, and new ways of doing something. In a reasonable desire to hold onto what is best about the present, we can be fearful of any new development.
When it comes to the church, there are two ways in which renewal is a constant desire. The challenge for each generation of believers is to live out the Christian faith in their context in their age. Working out how we do that best is a task for us as individuals and one we work on together. Considering how we can best make Christ known in this place and at this time should be a fundamental concern for all of us. One pressing issue for the world, that must be a concern for Christians, is the dire effects of global warming for the poorest communities. ‘Loving your neighbour’ today means monitoring and reducing our energy consumption, and recycling. It is not enough, though, just to take individual action, we need to lobby organisations to which we belong and our government to take the ‘green agenda’ seriously. We need to renew our witness to God’s concern for each individual and for the whole created order.
Secondly, our relationships with God and each other would need to be renewed. Our constant longing is for our life together to be reinvigorated. We are summoned, individually and corporately, to grow to maturity in love. This is not easy. Our ways of relating can become habitual and less than generous. Aware of these shortcoming, we pray for our love for each to be renewed.
As we pray for the Holy Spirit to revitalise us, let us look expectantly for signs of the Spirit’s presence in our lives, in our church and in our neighbourhoods. When and where we see transformation, there the Holy Spirit is making the difference. Where the Wind blows, the words of Jesus can be heard too, “Behold I make all things new.”