I want to share with you something I came across while preparing for Pentecost Sunday in June.

It is a wonderful quotation from St. Ignatius of Laodicea, a fourth century bishop.

Without the Holy Spirit,

God is far away,

Christ stays in the past,

the Gospel is a dead letter,

the Church is simply an organisation,

authority is domination,

mission is propaganda,

liturgy is only nostalgia,

and the work of Christians is slave labour.

But with the Holy Spirt,

Christ is risen and present,

the Gospel is a living force,

the Church shows forth the life of the Trinity,

authority is a service that sets people free,

mission is Pentecost,

the liturgy is both memory and anticipation, and human action is God’s work in the world.

It’s worth chewing over the contrasts: God far away, or distant; the Gospel a dead letter, or a living force; the Church just an organisation, or the people of God.

Pope Francis has written about the people of God on their pilgrim journey communicating their faith. He says, “When the dialogue among the people and the bishops and the pope goes down this road and is genuine, then it is assisted by the Holy Spirit.”

Well, we haven’t got a pope, but all the rest of that we can say Amen to.

+Richard, Hereford

A letter from the Bishop of Hereford

July 2017