It’s become a cliche to say, ‘the church is the people.’ But it warrants repeating. The Church is nothing without people!
The Church is not the building or administrative structures, important as these are. Neither is the Kirk the sum of her courts, councils, fora, committees or Presbytery offices.
At this time of celebrating the incarnation, we remember that God became flesh in one human so that through his life, death, resurrection and ascension, by the power of Holy Spirit, we all might embody the presence of God. The people of God; rough around the edges and spiritually impoverished, are a holy community to be cherished and revered. Against them, the gates of hell shall not stand.
The preservation of power structures, the maintenance of national influence, the longevity of valued buildings, even the safekeeping of the ‘Third Article’, should not be achieved by disregarding the holy worth of God’s people. God’s own Son died for them.
This knowledge should be at the heart of our dealings with each other. And this knowledge must be at the heart of our planning and restructuring. But, for the sake of efficient planning, missional success and personal achievement are we sometimes guilty of forgetting the divine value God has placed on each person? Do we too easily behave like the institutions around us, become self-servinging, detached from the people we are charged to support; serving cheese and wine while the hoi polloi self-isolate?
Today, in particular, I want to spare a thought for colleagues under pressure this Christmas. To those, in this precious week, questioning their worth and their life’s work. To those worrying about their future. To those who feel like collateral damage in the attempts to save the Kirk.
You are of infinite worth!
“For you Jesus Christ came into the world: for you he lived and showed God’s love; for you he suffered the darkness of Calvary and cried at the last, ‘it is accomplished’; for you he triumphed over death and rose in newness of life; for you he ascended to reign at God’s right hand. All this he did for you.”
The Church’s greatest resource is her people. Through them the power of the Gospel is demonstrated. Through them the Word is remembered. Through them the Spirit is embodied. Without people, there is no future for the Kirk. What benefit will there be in having efficient management of the right barns in the right right places if tonight, God requires lives?