As a parish we have tried to sum up our understanding of what we are about with a Vision Statement:
Our central conviction is that faith goes hand-in-hand with friendship. The one is fostered and enhanced by the other. There is always a communal aspect to faith, no matter how intense the personal experience.
Another way of summing this up is by thinking about faith as involving 3 ‘B’s’:
Below is simple ‘Guide to Christianity’, using the 3 B’s, written by John Pritchard, Bishop of Oxford:
GOD AS CREATOR/FATHER
God is the creator and sustainer of everything that exists. God’s character is best described as ‘love’, and God’s passions are for peace, justice and joy for everyone. God is always ‘more’ – in scale, love, energy, presence – than we ever imagine. Language breaks down; our descriptions have to become metaphors. It’s like Hamlet trying to describe Shakespeare. But in order to explain what God is like, God took a huge risk…
GOD AS SON/JESUS
It’s been said, ‘God is Christlike, and in him is no unChristlikeness at all.’ If we want to understand what God is like, what God would say and do, we have only to look at this extraordinary life, the pivot on which history has turned.
GOD AS GO-BETWEEN/SPIRIT
If we can know God as Father in creation and as Son in history, how can we know God as the One who is present in our lives today? The answer is we can know him in the Spirit of God. The Spirit was released at Pentecost so that the love and grace of Jesus Christ could flow through his people into the world. Human transformation and social transformation are equally part of the new creation, the Kingdom of God, which Jesus came to announce and to demonstrate.
God is the Father we always needed, the Friend we always wanted, and the Energiser we always hoped for.
Christians think that believing certain things about God has implications for how they behave towards others and the world they live in. They call it ‘daily discipleship’. It means asking certain questions in the midst of the rough and tumble of ordinary living:
Being a day-to-day disciple will affect everything. It affects how we handle:
Christians belong both to Christ (Christ-ians) and to one another. Together they make up the vast human family called the Church, which St Paul called ‘the Body of Christ’. The task of the church is to continue the work Jesus began. To do that, Christ feeds his people through the Bible, prayer, and the sacraments.
The Bible is God’s love story – the story of God’s continuous pursuit of his wayward people. God has always longed to give people an abundant experience of life, and the Bible tells that story in many different ways – law, history, wisdom, poetry, prophecy, gospel, letters – written over more than 1000 years. This is God’s word for us and our word about God. It’s not ‘dictated’ but inspired (‘Godbreathed’). As such it’s the book above any other in history that has guided, moved, shaped and empowered both individuals and nations. Christians fail to read it at their peril!
Not a technique but a relationship, a friendship, which can take different forms:
These are God’s way of breaking through the limitations of words and giving us a direct encounter with the divine – ‘an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace’. Holy Communion is the most central action of the Church, representing for us the death and resurrection of Jesus so that we can share in the life he broke open for us. We come, empty handed, and are given Christ’s life in bread and wine. How can we not respond? When the worship ends, the service begins.
(text from ‘Christianity: A Simple Guide’ by John Pritchard, Bishop of Oxford)
daily you create the world, remake it,
and fill it with possibilities.
When it comes to faith,
help us to appreciate what we understand,
to enquire about what we don’t understand,
and to enjoy the journey in between,
for grace and truth have come together
to give us Life,
in Jesus Christ our Lord
Being a Christian, Archbishop Rowan Williams, Church of England website
You can get the following books from Amazon, your local Christian bookshop and from Waterstone’s:
(the Christian Enquiry Agency)
(lively, contemporary website)
(with lots of links)