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eucharistI want to thank Chalcedon, Struans and Geoffrey, in particular, for their posts this week, but also those who have contributed so much in the comments box – SF, Neo, David Monier-Williams Jock and Bosco in particular.

I have been away for a few days, a bit of opportunism prompted by the need to get over my sinus problems, so it took me a bit of time to catch up. It was a fascinating read, and not least because it reflected so many aspects of Christian faith. It is hard for us all, because our experience of our faith is both particular and general: so we feel what we feel, but we understand as part of a wider and yet particular context. From as early as I can recall, I have known God was there, but I can only have put that name on what I felt, and attached the name of Jesus to Him as part of what I was taught at Sunday School.

My father was not a great one for church, although, to please my mother, he would go, and he thought it was good for me to go too. It could easily have been otherwise, and I wonder then, what would have happened to my feelings that there was something/someone greater than myself ‘out there’?  I suspect that like some of my friends at College I’d have drifted into some kind of ‘spiritual practice’ and looked for somewhere those feelings could find a home.  Atheism has never made any sense to me because I have no feeling that it is in any way true; Christianity makes sense because it starts by explaining the intimations which my childish self already had.

So, when as Christians, we come to discuss our faith with each other, we bring that particular and that general stuff with us.  It seems to me that that may be why we often find ourselves in agreement on the particular – there is something in each of us which had brought us towards needing to acquire a greater knowledge of God. That feeling, that process, that journey, may well be what we all have in common. It is the particular context within which we grow we can create the dissension and division.

Jock’s comments about not wanting a church struck me strongly. I’ve felt that way quite a few times. At College we had a wonderful priest, to whom I owe much in terms of the way he helped me find my feet and keep my faith. The first church I worshipped at after my training and marriage was quite another matter. I didn’t find the priest or the congregation congenial, and I went because of Communion; I found nothing there which helped me, but I knew I needed to be with God in this way, and what I found at the Communion more than made up for everything else.

Perhaps this was why Jesus said we’d show ourselves His disciples through our love, each for the other?  It is the particular, the cultural and intellectual contexts, which divide us, but that Grace with which we are touched we hold in common – and through its working, and our humility in its presence – we can, if not overcome these differences, transcend them.