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The leaves are beginning to fall and the trees, bereft of their beauty, reveal the stark features of some of the newer buildings in Cambridge. Here, along the backs, however, very little has changed in the past half century except for the volume of traffic constantly going to and fro along this road that partly circles the city on the West. In the coming Spring there will undoubtedly be the rare splendour of the early bulbs of crocus and daffodil stretching from one end of this green 'backs' of the colleges to the other.
Meanwhile, here in the UK, we are getting used to the shortening of the days and the changes in climate as we prepare to enter the winter season. Many people prefer the autumn with its soft colours and sense of rest to the energetic Spring which soon slides into the ebullience of Summer. The traditional Christian church calendar mirrors these changes. In the 21st century however, the seasons of the church's year are quite opaque to the majority of the population, apart from the super stores' marketing of Christmas and Easter.
For most people life goes on from year to year without any notice of ritual festivals. Actually, in Christian terms, they have a point. For faith in God is about a rational faith that enables one to live from day to day as a commitment to the values and hope of the fulness of life made available to all humankind. But over the centuries this hope of true freedom, has on the one hand been interiorised in various forms of 'spirituality' and on the other hand in religious rituals.
The challenge facing the churches is to allow faith in a living God to become a faith for living in the real world of day to day experience. This involves facing forward towards a new Spring where faith in God is seen to be rationally plausible as well as undergirded by the experience of the Christian revelation in Jesus. Only so will our friends and neighbours be able to climb out of an almost universal sense of a disenchantment with all traditional spiritual values.
It is a time of great opportunity for individual people to come to terms with a reality of life which has depth and height and length and breadth. You could say that that could be a good definition of faith in God for living in the real world where there is new life as well as tragedy, love as well as hate.
© Aelred Arnesen
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