Saturday, March 07, 2009

Pew Warmers?

Pew Warmer
Pew Warmer,
originally uploaded by Jon W.
The Rev Dr Leander Harding was one of my professors in seminary. His keen sense of pastoral need and ability to sift through the flotsam of parish ministry is quite a gift, in my opinion. I recently came across a post on his blog about Ash Wednesday, and I reproduce a section from that post, " Thoughts on Ash Wednesday" here:
I have become more and more suspicious of the concept of the nominal Christian. Our parish churches are supposed to be full of nominal Christians who are just going through the motions, of half-believers who are relying on their good works and who have not really surrendered to Christ and accepted the Gospel. In any parish church there are a few real apostates, and a few real scoffers and perhaps a few who genuinely hate God. Their numbers are routinely exaggerated. Most of the people who come to the church Sunday by Sunday know they are dying and are placing their hope in Christ. It may be an inarticulate hope, it may be a confused hope. Often there are huge brambles of misunderstanding that must be cleared away before the whole power of the good news can come in upon them. Often there is real darkness into which the light of Christ has not yet come and which cries out for a light-bearer. Yet, they come. When Jesus saw such as these gathered in their multitudes on the hill side, the sight provoked in him not contempt for the nominal but compassion, “for they were like sheep without a shepherd.”

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