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On the edge

June 5, 2013

It is a positive description, “on the edge”, radical, cutting edge… it conjurers up images of bright and creative people bringing improvements to our life, (or more often new products to the market). Even the very words smell of success!

But life on the edges, outside of the centre is very different. The millions of refugees and IDPs (Internally Displaced People) live lives – very often bounded by the limitations of a refugee camp, that are barely more than existence. Even if they can get out and find home and work in a new town or country, they are still on the edges. They are people “not like us”, those who have a different culture, perhaps a different language, almost certainly a different accent. All of which mark them out as “incomers”, people who live here, but don’t quite belong.

In fact there are many more people at the margins, outside the influence of political and social conformity, beyond the reach of those who fit in with all the expectations that we are given. There are those who lack education, or social mobility, or who have succumbed to drink, drugs or `lifestyle choices`.

So life on the edge can be positive or negative! For those who are Christians, the reality is that we live at the edge: For Christians it was at the edge of society, often as exiles sent to the edges of the empire – although all that changed with Constantine in 313AD. Being at the edge gave them an edge, a perspective on the centre, and on power that allowed them to think independently, to weed out bad thinking and practices, rather than accepting it all as part of the package that came from the powerful.

It has taken 1700 years to move on from Christendom. But we are just about there now, The Church is no longer at the centre of society, it no longer is the dominant voice, it no longer sets the rules that people have to obey – or conform to! Most people in the UK will never attend church by choice – and in my view that is a good thing!

We finally have the chance to be radical, cutting edge, about our faith. To live out our faith in Church communities that demonstrate what it means to be “a new creation”, rather than attend meetings in buildings at `religious` times! We can perhaps reconnect with the radical faith of the Celtic Christians at the edge of empire, who may not have been powerful, but were very influential.

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