Friday, 19 October 2007

A question without an easy answer

This would have been a nice normal teaching week, except that I was summoned for jury service. It is the first time I have been part of a court procedure and I don’t wish to say anything specific, but let me offer an observation.

I was struck by the enormous sense of respect – bordering on awe – that the court seemed to invoke in all of us gathered for the jury service. Particularly when we were assembled in an anteroom next to the court chamber, you could almost feel the mutual unease. Voices were hushed, jokes ebbed away, people seem to look at each other as if seeking reassurance that we were part of the process of judgment and not its object. Oddly enough, it reminded me of a funeral. There are similarities, of course: for those sentenced to prison, lives are shattered and families torn apart in a way that only death exceeds. Anyway, I think we all felt we were in the presence of something of solemn power.

The sense of being in the presence of judgment, perhaps even justice, raised a question. Should we not, at least some time, and in some measure, feel this in church? Of course, we are forgiven in Christ; of course, we come before God not as judge, but as heavenly Father. But have we forgotten the wrath that would have been ours outside Christ? Have we totally forgotten that we have been spared the justice of God?

The question, which inevitably follows is, if that is the case (and I feel that there must be the time and place for such emotions), how do we try and it invoke them? An older generation would have had sermons on God's wrath and judgment. We however, being 21st-century Christians, merely allude to such things in passing, and then, aided and abetted by a worship team, move swiftly on into the happy sunlight of blessings, promise and hope. Something to think about surely?

Incidentally, I have posted a long discussion of allegory on the Speculative Faith website. Have a good weekend,