A rule of life

In Liverpool Diocese we’re asking God for a bigger church to make a bigger difference; more people knowing Jesus, more justice in the world.

Over the last couple of years we have been praying and thinking together about how this can best be done.

In our last three Diocesan Synods I have shared some of this thinking, and in particular I have spoken about the inner journey and the outer journey of faith – that is, the life of prayer and study of scripture which forms us inwardly, and the life of proclamation and service which forms us outwardly.

To live such a life is to be a disciple – one who learns from Jesus in the power of the Spirit, one who comes through Jesus to the Father, one who becomes an ambassador of the Kingdom of God, speaking of Jesus, serving and being present to those on the edge of things.

In taking the inner journey we are called by God to be close to Jesus in our hearts. In taking the outer journey we are sent by God to be close to Jesus in the world.

In the inner journey we are called by God to pray, and to read scripture, and to learn from one another.

In the outer journey we are sent by God to tell our friends about Jesus, and to serve those in need, and to give our lives, our time and talents and money, back to the God who has given us everything.

Called to pray, read and learn. Sent to tell, serve and give.

Called to pray, read and learn. Sent to tell, serve and give.

These simple words form our Rule of Life. Called to pray, read and learn. Sent to tell, serve and give.

To live such a life is to be a disciple. And I believe that if we ask God for a bigger church to make a bigger difference, and if we want to see more people knowing Jesus and more justice in the world, then one way that God will answer our prayer is by making more disciples – and by including us in that number. We will be called to pray, read and learn. Sent to tell, serve and give.

To live such a life is to be a disciple. And no one can be a disciple on their own.

When we take the inner journey we respond to God’s call, and we are not alone.

  • In prayer, as Jesus tells us, we enter the secret place to meet the One he called Father, who draws us close, who sees what is done in secret, who fills us with life.
  • In reading the Bible we meet the inspired writers who point us to God, and we meet those who have interpreted their words over the centuries so that we can read with love and with understanding.
  • In learning the faith we meet the people God has given us in the church, in our parish or school or fresh expression or chaplaincy; we meet them and learn from them how to live.

When we take the outer journey we respond to God’s sending love, and we are not alone.

  • In telling of Jesus we meet our friends who do not know him, as one by one we bring them to meet him for themselves, and to know his love for them, and to be led by Him to his Father and their Father, to his God and their God.
  • In serving others we meet their needs as we meet the people themselves, connecting with them in the struggle for justice and dignity, doing all the many things God gives us to do with them and for them, so as to help and to love them more.
  • In giving our lives we take our place among the hundreds of millions of people who bear the name of Christ worldwide, and (for those in our Diocese) among the more than sixty thousand people who are actively connected to our Diocese of Liverpool, as worshippers in our churches and volunteers in our projects and students in our schools.

As disciples we are connected in every part of our journey. Connected and called to pray, read and learn. Connected and sent to tell, serve and give.

Each and every Christian community is different. I believe God loves and honours that difference, the endlessly creative diversity of people and communities in each place and in every place.

But as a bishop I believe, as so many other bishops across the Church believe, that this is a time for all of us to know that we are not alone, as we submit to Christ’s rule in our lives.

I am glad as Bishop of Liverpool to be saying all this at Pentecost, the festival and the season of the sending of the Spirit on the Church.

And I give a charge to each person in our Diocese in this season of the Spirit. In your own way, and in the way of your own community, consider what it would look like to live according to a rule of life. Consider what it looks like for you to be called to pray, read and learn, and to be sent to tell, serve and give.

Over the next few months a whole range of diocesan resources will be shared, for you to use if you wish so as to help you make this journey. None of them are compulsory for everyone. All of them are designed to help some.

I’m not interested in marketing, or in branding, or in dragooning. I’m interested in Jesus, and in knowing that we are following him on the inner and the outer journey.

What matters is not the resources, but the life.

So this Pentecost the charge is simply this; will you re-commit yourself to this journey, in company with tens of thousands of others across the Church? Will you choose again to be known as a disciple of Jesus? Will you accept a rule of life?

If you will, all you need do is say yes. Soon there will be a chance for you to do so publicly. But as a mark of your commitment for now, I simply ask that whenever you say the Lord’s Prayer, alone or in your family or in your church or in your school, whenever you say the Lord’s Prayer you begin by thinking to yourself, “As a disciple of Jesus (in the Diocese of Liverpool) I pray…”. Then this part of the journey will have begun.

With every blessing this Pentecost from your friend, and fellow disciple, and bishop,

+Paul

As a disciple of Jesus (in the Diocese of Liverpool) I pray,

 

Our Father in heaven,

Hallowed be your name,

Your kingdom come,

Your will be done,

On earth as in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread.

Forgive us our sins,

As we forgive those who sin against us.

Lead us not into temptation,

But deliver us from evil.

For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours,

Now and for ever. Amen.