Thursday 30 June 2016

Bigger than the EU?

My two little congregations include loved and valued members from lots of back-grounds: Brazilian, Fijian, Finnish, German, Italian, Nigerian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, South African and Zimbabwean. I hope I haven't missed anyone out – and yes, Brits are welcome too! That's not bad two small to medium villages. It's like a foretaste of Heaven, which the Bible describes as containing "a vast multitude, drawn from every tribe and language and people and nation."

So we belong to something that's much bigger than England, Britain, the EU or for that matter any nation or empire that's ever been. They are things but of a moment whereas the Church stretches back two thousand years and forwards for all eternity. That is why Christians cannot take a narrowly nationalistic view of life: our citizenship is in heaven and extends to all who follow Christ – currently some two and a half billion people.

There are many valid reasons why people might be unhappy with the EU as an institution: lack of accountability, too much bureaucracy, trade barriers against the Third World and the like. But one reason that can never be acceptable is fear and hatred of those who are different from us. Fear and hatred are simply not worthy of our glorious Lord and Saviour, who calls us all to belong to His great family and makes us one in His Spirit. Let us therefore continue to love one another, welcome the stranger and take our stand for the Gospel of Mercy and the King of Love.

Monday 6 June 2016

Go to Church and live longer?

Research published last month found that regular churchgoers were 33 per less likely to die during the 16 year study period than those who never attended. Frequent attenders also showed significantly lower risk of cancer (21% improvement) and cardiovascular disease (27% improvement). Even those who only go sporadically had improved survival rates compared to those who never do. Even when issues like smoking were factored out the improvements remained the same across the board. More details on for example

The study followed the lives of 74,534 American nurses, all women. So what of men? Well there are other studies out there which show that the effect is less marked, but still significant for men. But all these studies seem to be American. I googled churchgoers live longer research and couldn't find a single British study on the net. I wonder why our epidemiologists don't think it's worth investigating…

What about reasons why this should be so? Here's some possibilities:
o being part of a supportive community?
o taking part in communal singing (which has independently been shown to reduce stress and boost health)?
o clean living – less drugs, tobacco and alcohol?
o believing that your life has value and purpose?
o finding peace of mind?
o trusting that you  are loved – by God and others?

What do you think?