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Church News Volume 7, Issue 2 (March 2006)

Dear friends,

"He was in the world … yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God." (John 1:10-13)

It can be much easier to say "No", than to say "Yes". "No, I'm not standing for that. No, we don't want to change." It takes less energy, makes fewer demands upon us. "No" closes down options and keeps us safe; "Yes" opens things up and leads us into the unknown.

Many folk find it easier to say "No" to change; "No" to taking on new challenges, to accepting new or additional responsibility; "No," to other people's views and suggestions.

There can be a real fear about change and new ideas. Sometimes, however, we meet those whose first response, almost as a matter of course, is to say "No", firmly and robustly, whatever the circumstance - to the immense frustration of all those seeking to move on, and to improve things. Time to think may bring about a change of response - but sometimes people remain immovable, and cannot think or see beyond their "No".

St John, in his own inimitable way, sets out for us - in words which create a real sense of awe, and mystery, and wonder - Jesus' coming to us as the light of the world. He came in human form, as the baby born at Bethlehem, God-on-earth, and yet he had been in the world, of the world, indeed was creator of the world, from the beginning.

And - John tells us - those who do receive him, who do believe in him, become "children of God". What a wonderful assurance!

John, in his poetic imagery, reminds us, too, that though Jesus was in the world, the world (or part of it) knew him not (or chose not to know him). Some did not, or would not, accept him. Some rejected him. Many, unthinkingly, despised him.

Yet now, as we turn towards Lent, it is good to have St John's reminder that Jesus, even in all his goodness, in all his glory, was rejected and despised " .. yet the world did not know him … and his own people did not accept him".

Such thoughts, if we take them seriously, should challenge us - really challenge us. And how good it is to be challenged!

Are we among those whose lives are too busy to find even a little space for him (perhaps barely an hour on Sunday morning)?

Do we say "No" to standing out for him in the workplace, or standing out against the ways of the world? Do we miss chances to let his word and his light shine out through us? Are we too ready to say "No" when following his way tests our conscience, conflicts with our "comfortable Christianity" and the all-too-easy compass of our Christian commitment?

Do we say "No" to change, wanting our Church to be just as it has always been?

Are we among those who reject him, who say "No" to him, who wound him, who nail him to the cross?

Yes, this Gospel reading does indeed challenge us. It sets our minds racing, too, as we approach our Lenten journey. Shall we, like so many, find it easier to say "No"? Shall we keep ourselves safe and keep our faith contained so that it does not make too many demands upon us or force us to change our ways?

Or shall we "see the light" and really make space for Jesus Christ to come into our lives and light up our lives, as we prepare ourselves anew to greet him at Easter, the risen Christ.

Shall we say "Yes" to Jesus - and open up our lives to him, daring to walk with him into the unknown, to allow him to change us and unsettle us, and to discover the fullness of what it means to be children of God?

We, like the people in Nazareth some two thousand years ago, have a choice to make will we choose darkness or light?

Will we give "No" or "Yes" to Jesus Christ?

Revd Ian M. Finn

News Letter Archive.

Last Modified Sunday 04 March 2018