In a Christmas Day Sermon preached in St Fin Barre’s Cathedral, Cork, the Right Reverend Paul Colton, Bishop of Cork, said that, in his experience, as the Church as an institution is becoming increasingly all-consumed in an inward-looking, self-obsessed way with its own great matters, its proclamation of the love of Christ is being damaged and sadly the Church is pushing many away from the love of God.
Speaking about divisions and brokenness within the Church as it wrestles with issues which concern it, Bishop Colton said:
I have a great concern about one of the principal dangers of this brokenness. As we within the institution are increasingly all-consumed in an inward-looking, self-obsessed way with our own great matters, our proclamation of the love of Christ is being damaged. Many ‘out there’ inspired by the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, are getting on with being as ‘Christ-like’ as they can, but without the Church.
By its failure to love and include and embrace and to welcome and to love as Christ loved, the Church – or more pointedly, by our failure to love and include and embrace and to welcome and to love as Christ loved, we – we are driving many away from the baby in the manger, away from Jesus, into the arms of secularism and unbelief at worst, and into the fold of non-institutional, residual, post-Christian spirituality at best. It is my experience, fear and shame, that the Church is pushing many away from the love of God.
Yet, at the same time, the ministry of a broken Church should not alarm or dismay us – paradoxically, it should encourage us that the Church in its life and ministry has always manifested brokenness. Foolish as we are, with all our human weaknesses and vulnerabilities, all our own brokenness, God chooses all of us who are baptised and calls us to journey with him and to serve his people.
More important, has it not always been the vulnerability and suffering of the grown up Jesus at the time of his torture, suffering and execution that has given many inspiration and strength?
The full text of the Bishop’s sermon is available here on: http://www.churchofirelandcork.com