Our excellent Vicar Ruth pointed out in her sermon last Sunday that Jesus was giving his teaching not on the Mount but on the Plain. He had come down to where the people were.
I was inevitably reminded of the story of the Transfiguration, where Jesus also has to come down and help his disciples out in their ministry at ground level – famously captured by Raphael.
And I am reminded too of George Lings’ succinct analysis that whereas in the days of Christendom the prevailing culture meant that people would roll down into church naturally as it were, now they will roll away.
So what does it mean for a church y to be on a roll? Most of us have been brought up to assume it means folk flocking in. But perhaps now it must mean folk flocking out, to where the people are, trusting that Jesus is there too.
It’s not an easy thing to give up our image of a church on a roll, but “I believe in God” is our creed, long before the church gets a mention, and God is there waiting for us in the world he loves so much.