August 2020 Bishop Michael
Jesus is The Saviour of the world:
When I was growing up, this statement was not a problem. It was presumed to be true. Believed to be true. If it was not true, then what was the point of having Jesus as a Messiah? If He limited God’s salvation to a few and left others to find an alternative Way to the Father, why follow Jesus>
I make this point because there is a movement within Christians of a more liberal bent, to present Jesus as just one way to salvation among a range of ways. In a world where truth has become a flexible concept, the idea of having an immutable Truth, one that was unassailable and irrefutable is anathema. However, that is precisely what has been revealed to us by the Father. It is not that Jesus is a significant human being. He is that but he is more. That is the crucial element. Jesus is fully human and at the same time he is the Divine Son of God… In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
As Jesus himself declared, He is the way, the truth and the life. He revealed to the world that he is not just one way among many alternative ways. They will all prove to be ineffective in empowering men and women to achieve those life goals – way, truth, life. Because there is only the one, single God, there can only be one, single salvation history. This includes even those who do not believe in Christ and those who have never even heard of Jesus. He is their Way as well. All those who are saved by the free gift of God are saved by Christ, by what God Himself did for the world and for humanity in Jesus His Christ.
To know Christ is to know who we truly are
Jesus came into our world as the Son of God. In himself he revealed to the world the face of God and the love the Father has for us. He also led us deep inside of ourselves, so that we could understand the meaning of life and the fullness of our identity. To know the Son is to know the Father. To know the Father and the Son is to know who we are, why we are here and why we are precious in the eyes of God.
The Father revealed to us by the Son is not simply the Creator, the One who brought the cosmos and our world into existence. He is certainly those things but a whole lot more. The God of Jesus is the God who is intimately present to us in the gift of His Soon. He is the Hound of Heaven God; God-in-search of His children; God-in-human-history. The Father of Jesus is a participant in the drama that is our life. He is the God who is going before us as Yahweh the God of Israel went before the Hebrew peoples making their way to freedom and a new life of milk and honey. God is not just a God enthroned in heaven. He is our divine Companion on our pilgrimage through life, the God inviting us to share divine love with Him for eternity.
One of the most powerful images of this God was given to us by Jesus in the Parable of the Loving Father (the Prodigal Son). The father there was not a dad who stayed at home hoping his son would come to his senses and return to the family property. He was out there watching out for the son. Luke’s image is one of a father pacing up and down, day in and day out, watching for the son to appear on the horizon… while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him. When the figure of his son finally did appear, he took off and rani to him. He was filled with compassion. There was no thinking of the past. Only love and compassion. That is his own experience of the Father Jesus is revealing to us in that parable. God is no austere, remote, stern faced angry deity. Love is a key part of any definition of God.
Who then are we? At our very core? We can affirm how we are a great deal more than just an accident of chemistry and physics, mere results of a spontaneous process of evolution. We are not some-thing. Really important is this revelation. We are not some-thing. We are all some-one. And to continue that kind of language, we are some-one who is proceeding to be some-where. The Creator God imbued us with an innate dignity that comes with who we are and not by what we might do or achieve. We have a destiny, a future revealed to us in the life, ministry, death, resurrection and ascension of the Christ. There are two magnificent statements on this by a couple of our greatest Church theologians:
Athanasius: the Son of God became man so that we might become God.
Augustine: The only-begotten Son of God…assumed our nature, so that he, made man, might make men gods.
There is a further exciting aspect to this revelation. Jesus was not revealing to us something that will happen in the distant future, in a world beyond the grave, a time after the End of the earth. These realities are accessible in the present time as well. They are accessible in Jesus. Through depth and intimacy of our lives in Christ, we have access to the love of the Living God in our world, in our present historical situation.
Being a follower of Jesus involves much more than being a member of an association of like-minded believers who want to do good in the world. Baptism in faith involves us in living in anticipation of the Kingdom of God that is to come. It means living under divine rule now as we prepare to live in the eternal reality of that Kingdom. The followers of Jesus know how history will unfold and have knowledge of the future and fate of all things. They live now according to what they know will be. This truth revealed to them in Jesus the Christ, is what gives them hope and peace.
We have a dignity that no human source or activity can supply
Because we know our origins are in the divine and our future is in the same divine reality have gifts and are called to be gifts for the world. This belief is a part of the very bedrock of our faith. Much as unbelieving critics in the Western world today might want to see this kind of thinking as being a way of enslaved to fantasies, the truth is we are liberated by this revelation.
Our dignity as men and women is not dependant on what we can do and achieve, by the way we are evaluated in the eyes of the culture in which we live. We have a dignity and a destiny in God that comes from the moment of conception. Nothing can take this away from us. Here is the counter-cultural aspects of faith. We reach our fulfilment as humans, not by our own self-assertion but by self-giving.
The curse of original sin and its ongoing threat to our peace
Looking at stories (in The New York Times) from 1970 to 2018, several terms came out of nowhere in the past few years to reach sudden new heights of repetition and frequency … (such as) non-binary, toxic masculinity, white supremacy, traumatising, queer, transphobia, whiteness, mansplaining. And here are a few that were rising in frequency in the last decade but only took off in the last few years: triggering, hurtful, gender, stereotypes.