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Reform Magazine | October 22, 2017

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Editorial: Christmas aspirations

parrisInspired by this month’s Bible study, I have decided to dedicate some study time, in silence and on my own, to the prologue to John’s gospel. Specifically, I want to accept Lawrence Moore’s invitation to contemplate this profound, even mystical text as “John’s Christmas story”.

I wonder whether a person who reaches a certain level of consciousness over John’s words – which seem to link the incarnation to creation and all that ever was and ever will be – might be likely to internalise more deeply, less fleetingly than the rest of us, some of the other Christmas insights offered by our contributors this month. A number of these open up difficult, challenging or painful ideas; others are uplifting. If only we could attain, or maintain, the spiritual awareness required, what new implications of the incarnation might hit home for us and change us?

Having come to this job five years ago as a journalist relatively new to religious thinking – and as someone who remains nothing more than a keenly interested church punter – I still find myself tiptoeing around words like those I have just used, worried that I might say something trite or inappropriate. However, I have treasured the challenge of trying to be honest about things that seem pertinent to me each month, hoping they might sometimes strike a chord with others who continue this particular search for truth and understanding.

Most of us who attend churches are not theologians, but we have brains and we want to stretch ourselves and to be stretched by ideas, discussions and possibilities. So I raise a glass of mulled wine to John Bradbury (pages 18-19) for suggesting that worship leaders should not shy away from aspirational preaching, even – and indeed especially – not at Christmas. I raise it again to Jane Williams – interviewed in Reform this month as she and her husband, the outgoing Archbishop of Canterbury, look ahead to pastures new. Here is a scholar who does not want to distinguish between personal faith and theological learning. “I find God very exciting when I study God,” she says. “For me, study is experiential.” As a writer and church-based teacher, she wouldn’t want to keep that experience locked in the lecture theatre.

I shall be leaving my post in January to return to the world of freelance writing and editing. I have loved being editor of Reform more than I can say, but I shan’t be off until after the next (February) edition has gone to press, so I am saving my fond farewells for now. In the meantime, all of us on the Reform team would like to wish our readers a joyful, peaceful Christmas.

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This article was published in the combined December 2012/January 2013 edition of  Reform.

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