“Those who hope in the Lord will inherit the Land” Psalm 37v9
The recent Census findings that Britain is now a minority Christian country has caused many in the media to reflect upon the declining significance of the church within our nation, not least as we approach a coronation service in which the Christian underpinnings of the monarchy and our nation state will be much in evidence.
The value or otherwise of an established state church is always a negotiation between the value of inherited Christian culture and its current observance, but there can be no denying these latest statistics confirm a picture that most of us recognise all too well: if only from the religious convictions of our children and grandchildren, which are often quite different from our own. The idea of faith as an inheritance is a strong motif in both Old and New Testaments, but one grounded for Christians in the future not just the past. Thus, St Paul writes to the Ephesians of the Holy Spirit as the “pledge of our inheritance”, as if they were on the brink of something yet to be realised.
At the start of a new year, with all the promise of the Christ Child in our hearts and homes, this is important to remember. The light of God that dawns on the world in Epiphany draws us forward, not back – and assures us that, whatever the changing fortunes of the church and the privations of this season - God’s best is yet to come.