Yes, it’s been a long time since the last blog entry. Sorry about that (if anyone is disappointed). It has been the result of Christmas busyness and a week’s holiday after Boxing Day that has led to the blogence (blog-silence).
We travelled a long way during our holiday and one of the things I reflected on during those travels is how we refer to people from different towns:
The words used for the inhabitants are different from the town name. A long while ago I lived in Horsham (West Sussex) and wondered whether the appropriate designation for inhabitants of that town should be ‘Horshamites’ and whether those who lived in the nearby town of Hayward’s Heath should be known as ‘Hayward’s Heathens’.
There are some wonderful names of inhabitants in the Bible. I can still remember learning Hebrew at Bible College and reading in Exodus 3 about the ‘Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites’. Then there are the ‘Gerzites’, ‘Amelekites’ and (my favourite) ‘Gergashites’. Some of them sound like medical conditions I would rather not have!
And of course there is the name given to followers of Jesus: ‘Christian’. At the beginning of November I blogged on different ways in which the name ‘Christian’ identifies us with Jesus. It is a word that is now sometimes used to identify groups of people who have a Christian heritage rather than being exclusively used for those who are devoted followers of Jesus. That is one reason why I often describe myself as a ‘follower of Jesus’. It’s not that I am ashamed of being known as a Christian, but I want people to know that I am more than nominal.
This new year in our morning services we will be exploring what it means to be a follower of Jesus. It’s both incredibly simple (do what he would do) and incredibly difficult (‘what would he do; how do we know; and how can we succeed?’ are great questions with which to start and there are many more). Whatever we do, I pray that I will be known as a follower of Jesus by all whom I meet and that any who would describe themselves as Christian will know the reality of a relationship with Jesus.