Preaching in the civic swamp. Sunday 24 Jan 21

Most old cities in Europe are dense. The people who live in them want to get to where they need to go within a half hour or so. On foot, because that was the only option. Bigger cities had neighbourhoods, quarters, and most people did not leave them. It has required mechanical systems — rail, streetcars, and freeways — to build cities that can sprawl so they arer sixy odd miles in diameter. Which is what three days travel is.

But we have such cities, and they are shredders of morals. But we are called to witness not to the trees, but to people. Jonah would have rather spent time under a tree, than go to the places people, then and now, get plagues.

But his preaching saved many children.

So when considering the collect for this Sunday, and the scripture, and the interspersed songs, think about this: The church needs to be where the epople are.

And the safest place to be is not that. It is, as the witch hunts start, where woke people are not.

For, like Jonah, we are called to preach. To say the truth. Perhaps the will, like Nineveh, repent.

Almighty and everlasting God,
Mercifully look upon our infirmities,
and in all our dangers and necessities
stretch forth thy right hand to help and defend us;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Church of Ireland

29 This is what I mean, brothers: the appointed time has grown very short. From now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none, 30 and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no goods, 31 and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away.
1 Corinthians 7:29-31

3 Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it the message that I tell you.” 3 So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, three days’ journey in breadth. 4 Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s journey. And he called out, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” 5 And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them.

10 When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it.

Jonah 3:1-5, 10

14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

16 Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. 17 And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” 18 And immediately they left their nets and followed him. 19 And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. 20 And immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him.

Mark 1:14-20

If we are going to preach to the city, to the woke, we will need a church. Bruce Charlton, like many, see the compromise of the official church and are turning to deep prayer and avoiding any such group. There is an old name for this: Quietism.

And it’s really attractive as an option. Be silent. Compromise. A pinch of incense to the green God. Turn up to pagan prayers. Follow the elite in their exploration of spirituality, which is based on negating life not preparing for the life to follow.

We are not called to do that.

Instead we have to live differently.

Act differently

And our churches are not the state at prayer, but a proclamation that the time is short. This is the crisis. Those who preach comfort are lying.

They will decline, for they fear offending the rulers, the woke, and worship the people of this age and not God.

But those who seek GOd will find him, and build better communities. I’m part of one (and yes, we have church flats because the students flat with each other).

And then our cities will be saved.

Otherwise, they will die, and with it the nation.