Christmas is coming. Last Sunday the Advent candles were out at church; some folks have their Christmas lights up; last night a group of us practiced carols for our first carol service next week.
For me that means getting my accordion out. Most years it only comes out at Christmas. I play it at a few carol services and then it goes away again in its case, in the cupboard. Some say that’s the best place for it!
When I was working in school similar stories were told about teachers. They weren’t real people with homes and families and problems. They lived in the classroom cupboard and popped out each morning.
At the end of the school day the children leave. The teachers mark books, put up a classroom display, do whatever, and then go back in the cupboard.
The refuse collectors turn up each week, the nurses are there at the hospital, the Amazon delivery driver bringing the presents I’ve ordered, the firefighters are just a phone call away…
Ordinary people with ordinary lives? The danger is that they are just the accordion in the case, the teacher in the cupboard, just there when we need them.
The 2021 census tells us that just 46.2% of people call themselves ‘Christian’, compared to 59.3% in 2011. Around 37.2% said they had no religion at all, up by a quarter from 2011.
Increasingly folks are saying that they aren’t Christians – no pretence, no excuse – an honest statement of their beliefs and choices.
Others keep their faith, like accordions and teachers, in a cupboard. It may come out a weddings, funerals or when there’s a crisis. It may appear this Christmas at a carol service, only to be packed away with the lights and decorations for another year.
For me, my faith is not with my accordion in a cupboard for occasional use. I identify as Christian, daily active, practicing, seeking to talk the talk and walk the walk.