A symbol of the faith

We all recognise the cross, it is the most widely recognised symbol in the world. You can see it in churches, on clothing, jewellery, in art and all sorts of other places. It is a powerful symbol that both represents Jesus and what he accomplished on the cross and at the same time it represents the Christian faith.

However the first symbol the ICTHYS or fish symbol was used as a way of identifying friends or marking special places like tombs. It helped early christians identify, connect with and teach others about the faith, as a covert sign used during the Roman empire due to the danger of worshiping Jesus publicly. It stands for (I) Jesus (C) Christ (Y) Son of (TH) God (S) the Saviour.

Today many churches have been thrust from behind the walls of their church buildings onto Youtube, Facebook and Zoom. Many of us have met with friends, family or colleagues with the help of this technology during lockdown and now as restrictions remain in place.So what symbol, sign or mark do we bear and share with others. Maybe some of us wear a cross on a necklace, maybe you have an ICTHYS symbol on your car. I wonder how many of us display any sign of our faith when we are video calling people. I have noticed that people’s pictures, ornaments and photos often strike up a conversation when they are on display on a video call.

So next time you have a meeting or meet friends what could you have as a sign that Jesus is your saviour. What words do we need to speak to friends who know us but know nothing of our faith or Jesus? I would love to see your ideas, a picture, a comment or maybe I will see for myself if we meet on Zoom. Speaking about Jesus can feel really hard, but sharing something that invites a question is so much easier. Let’s pray that everything we do is a spiritual act of worship. Here is the Message’s take on Romans 12 from the Bible:

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognise what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. 

Romans 12:1-2

The one thing we shouldn’t be worried about transmitting

At the moment lots of people are worried about what they pass on to others! For various reasons we may be trying to keep these things to ourselves:

  • germs
  • worries (as people have enough to worry about right now)
  • fears (people wouldn’t understand) 
  • a 2 metre space (social distancing)
  • hopes or plans (in case they aren’t met or don’t happen)

I am glad that for many Christ Church is a place where many of us feel able to share our joys, worries, concerns and fears with one another. It is a mark of the friendships and fellowship that God has blessed us with. Although for everyone who shares, there is at least one person who is putting on a brave face and keeping their reality hidden. If you pray, join me in praying that we would be better at sharing our lives together and receiving what people share. It is all part of the way we express our love for one another, just like a regular family does.

So what can we share?

Hope, joy and what things are really like. It makes sense to be wise about who we shared things we feel really vulnerable about, but I hope we can all say I’m not having a good day today.

What else do we struggle to share?
There is one thing that has changed my life for the better, yet it can be hard to tell people about it. Even though other people seem very happy telling me about the latest film, purchase or meal they enjoyed, I think it is hard sharing what Jesus has done, or what a difference he makes. Surprisingly I don’t think being a Vicar makes it any easier most of the time!

How can we help others?
Here are three ways we could introduce someone to Jesus without having to work out what to say. 

  1. Share this page with someone.
  2. If you listen to something encouraging, a talk, a podcast, radio station or read something pass it on. Send it on WhatsApp, drop it through someones letter box or tell them over the phone.
  3. Invite people to church, let someone else explain what Jesus has done. Simply tell someone how helpful, encouraging or beneficial you find coming to church and that they might like to try it, in person or on Zoom. It has never been easier to invite someone to a service that it is now.

I can’t tell you how grateful I am to God for all those people who made sure that Jesus wasn’t left out of their conversations. I am so thankful to those who invited me to church and told me that Jesus loved me. I know that the good news of Jesus can spread quicker than wild fire and knowing him can change communities more profoundly than any pandemic.

So please use the resources Jesus has given us to share something good this week. I hope to be able to include some elements in this email in the weeks to come that might make it more relevant and more readily sharable, if you have any ideas I would love to hear them.