Passing on the Flame of FaithWednesday 2nd October 2019
Below, to celebrate the upcoming launch of Stage Three of Hope in the Future, Fr Chris Gorton reflects on the journey we are on as a diocese and the role we have to play in passing on the flame of our faith.
Stage Three builds on our work in the previous two stages, and we move our focus to ‘Living the Sunday Eucharist’.
The weekend is, in a real sense, a focal point for our celebration of our faith. We hope to build on this to ensure that our parishes are mission oriented through our welcome, our liturgy and our hospitality. Missionary Parishes are places of welcome and prayer, where no one is left behind.
One thing is certain in our faith. In fact, our faith is based on it.
Jesus, risen from the dead, is present amongst us, alleluia, alleluia!
Whatever our plans, whatever ideas we have, and whatever successes, failures and setbacks we encounter, Christ is with us on the journey and it is his mission that we share.
Development plans come and go, and structures may adapt or resist to change. But if we keep Christ at the centre of all that we are trying to achieve, we know we are heading in the right direction.
Passing on our Faith
The enduring symbol of the Paschal candle burning brightly in the darkness at the Easter Vigil is our Hope in the Future. It is a physical, symbolic reminder of the presence of Christ amongst us and the faith that has been given to us and that we are called to share.
Ultimately, this is what Hope in the Future is all about. It’s about being Missionary Disciples receiving, deepening and passing on our faith and allowing the light of our faith to shine brightly in a darkened world.
Our faith can bring other people hope while encouraging them to have a personal encounter with Jesus.
Think for a moment of the Olympic flame being passed from one person to the next before the games begin; it’s a familiar sight in athletics.
Now imagine for a moment the light of Christ being passed from one generation to the next. That is why we are here. Our faith has been passed on from the earliest of times, from the Apostles, to the generation who have now given us the light of faith.
Now it is our turn to run!
The terrain is very different from even twenty years ago. Now we live in a missionary country, a missionary diocese and in missionary parishes. If we spend too much time looking back to how it used to be we will miss the opportunity given to us to live out our faith now, to run our part of the race and be the missionary disciples that we are called to be.
In our diocese at this moment in time Hope in the Future is a positive way of helping the diocese, deaneries, parishes and schools to do precisely that.
Many people have begun to engage with Hope in the Future in very creative ways and hopefully this will help other parishes to have the confidence and the wisdom to engage with the programme as well.
We all benefit from shared good practice, encouraging each other as people do in a race. We all benefit from everyone taking part.
But it is very important that we remain focused and determined so that we do our own personal best as a diocese, deanery, parish, school, parishioner, priest – for the good of all.
There is a famous phrase that says ‘It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.’
Be a Messenger of Hope
We are lucky to already have that light and now we are running with it. It is our time and we will not have the chance again so I encourage you to run, run, run to the best of your ability, to share the light of Christ as a missionary disciple and to be a member of the team.
The next generation will thank you, maybe not now, but when their turn comes to pass on the light of faith.
Be a messenger of hope, be part of Hope in the Future in the diocese and be inspired by the Holy Spirit in the way you pass on our hope in the future, Jesus Christ himself.