I have been a fan of Christine Pohl’s writings for many years. ‘Making Room’ made me re-think what is meant by Christian hospitality. ‘Living into Community’ traces what she sees as essential ‘non negotiables’ for any group claiming to be Christian.
One of these ‘non negotiables’ is promise making and promise keeping. The keeping bit – being true to our word – we might expect. What she says about the making of promises I find especially challenging. Using the family as a context, she talks about how a collapse of promise making, ie not fulfilling promises, poses a serious risk of destroying a family. Families die when the very making of promises is no longer believed in. It’s, of course, linked to the failure to keep promises, where such continual failure acts as a corrosive to the promise making.
At a Christian wedding, the couple make promises to love and to cherish, till death us do part, etc. Their promises then extend to include loving and cherishing children they may have. It goes further still, shaping all their relationships. As a husband, father and grandfather, I am challenged to reflect more on how I am fulfilling my role as promise maker.
Making and keeping promises also lie at the heart of the church. God is revealed in the Bible as One who makes promises, the covenant God. True faith is very practical, living obediently and gratefully in response to the promises God has made and fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Importantly, that must include seeing that by His Holy Spirit, God continues to make promises of how and where he is leading us, in Nottingham, today. It’s easy to see the collapse of confidence in God as promise-maker. Predictably, that leads to the church not making promises either, so removing the oxygen supply to meaningful Christian ministry and mission.