One of the things I struggle with sometimes is finding positive things to say about the church. All too often it is the negative stories which make an impression on me and prompt me to write - and the church is a rich source for such stories!But tonight on Radio 4 I heard not one, but two good news stories coming from very different parts of the Christian church. So this blog post is a celebration of these good news stories - after all, that is what the word 'Gospel' is supposed to be about.
First up was the news that the chief executive of the FSA is to meet representatives from Occupy London in a tent to discuss reconnecting finance and ethics.After the disastrous start which St Paul's made in responding to the Occupy London protest, the Bishop of London has retaken much of the lost ground by bringing together members of the protest with powerful players in the City. The tent is pitched at St Ethelburga's Church which is now a centre of reconciliation and peace after being devastated by an IRA bomb in the 1990's. And the meeting was arranged by Ken Costa, an accomplished investment banker and committed Christian.
At last the established church is playing the part which it alone can perform - bringing together establishment and ordinary people to discuss real issues. If there is a path to be found which addresses the concerns of protesters, economists and financiers, it will be this kind of dialogue which creates the seeds of change.The second good news story was about a Christian charity called 'His Church' which is recycling counterfeit designer clothes which have been seized by UK Customs & Trading Standards.
Previously all such clothes were destroyed or buried in land-fill sites, but now His Church is using sewing machines (which were also confiscated from counterfeiters) to re-label these fake Armani, Gucci, and D&G clothes (to name but a few) and distribute them for free to homeless centres and women's shelters. The clothes are high quality and new, not second hand - and they are given as gifts, not charity.
The clothes are relabelled with the 'HIS' logo as a reminder that ultimately everything belongs to God - everything is His. (This would also be a useful reminder to those who make the wheels of the City go round).So today I celebrate two news stories which show the church doing what we should be doing - bringing people together, challenging those in power, redeeming that which was lost, and clothing the poor.
Today, I am proud to be a Christian.