In the Church’s calendar, today is the day when we remember Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist. I am struck once again not only by Christ’s trust in him but also by the trust Matthew had to place in Christ, however weak. And it wasn’t only about trust in Jesus Christ, it was also daring to grow in trust of his fellow companions on the way.
This week is the gathering of the College of Bishops in the Church of England and it has been good to be together. As we have discussed vision and a number of different agenda items including the ‘Living in Love and Faith’ journey, the word ‘trust’ has arisen again and again. It is a word that has also arisen for me in relation to narratives about the future of the Church, locally and nationally.
In my experience, assumptions and conspiracy theory (however mild) usually kill trust, whereas curious questions, and going towards one another in conversation and prayer deepen understanding and trust… which is not always the same as agreement.
We know there is unhealthy and healthy trust, and sadly we are familiar with the former when it comes to issues of abuse and power. There is also some research to show that people are more likely to trust people they perceive to be like them or in their ’group’ rather than those we perceive to be ‘other’, whether consciously or subconsciously. We also know that healthy trust is built through relationship, and as those seeking the coming of God’s kingdom on earth as in heaven, we are invited to put our trust in God who loves us and calls us by name, yet always as part of an interdependent body – the Body of Christ, and always remembering that the Church of which we are part is God’s Church.
At the recent confirmation service in Tewkesbury Abbey it was very poignant gathering around the font with people of different ages and different backgrounds from across the diocese, and hearing voices, young and old, and of different accents and strengths, responding to the questions of faith: Do you believe and trust in God the Father?
Do you believe and trust in his Son Jesus Christ? Do you believe and trust in the Holy Spirit?
The strength of that belief and trust will be different in each of those beloved individuals as with each of us, yet we proclaim our belief and trust together, discovering that an ever deeper trust in God demands an ever greater trust and trustworthiness within and between the members of the body of Christ.
It is my prayer that as we continue to walk into this next season, we might each ask how we can take one further small step of trust in God in our daily lives as God reaches out to us in love, recognising that it is also a commitment to go one more step towards one another in trust as we seek God’s future in the present in our life together as the Body of Christ.
This comes with thanks and prayers as ever,