To my fellow pilgrims on the path of resurrection life
Last Sunday we had a wonderful opportunity to reflect on some of the values that make us a congregation within the Uniting Church of Australia:
~ the centrality of Christ, our Living Word,
~ our inclusivity and radical hospitality,
~ a strong sense of justice,
~ shared authority and responsibility for ministry etc.
As people told stories about where they come from I was struck by the remarkable diversity of experiences gathered around our one little table, even though we had all once called ourselves “Methodists.” I was also surprised by the longing that arose within me for some of the songs, rituals, and people that had been a significant part of my faith journey – particularly in my youth. But, above all, I was deeply aware of the fact that the values that we were talking about sometimes represented who we are becoming (or striving to become) more than who we actually are.
When we speak of ourselves as a pilgrim people on the way to the promised end, we are acknowledging that we aren’t there yet: not in the eternal rest of heaven, and not even close to the fellowship of reconciliation that lives out God’s love for the common good of all God’s creation.
We confess that there are many in our midst who know that they belong, but there are still some who we hesitate to welcome unconditionally into the family of God.
We confess that there are people with whom we serve and worship who make our eyes roll and our nostrils flare and our blood boil and our ears close and our hearts harden.
We confess that for every issue that we are passionate about because we have experienced it first-hand or have a close friend or family member who has, there are a dozen causes that we don’t have the energy or the resources or even the desire to attend to.
We confess that we often mistake authority for power, seasons for traditions, gifts for possessions, domination for leadership, our plans for God’s will.
Yet we also confess that it is Christ alone who comes, addresses, and deals with us in and through the news of his completed work in such a way that
~ the guilty are acquitted,
~ life is given to the dead,
~ and new things are brought into being which, without him, could otherwise not exist.
(Paragraph 4, Basis of Union, paraphrased)
Just look at Saul’s encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9). This is probably the most remarkable story of transformation recorded in Scripture as a fervent, almost fanatical persecutor of the Christians fleeing Jerusalem to escape a painful death becomes a just-as-fervent preacher of the Gospel, missionary to the Gentiles, and teacher on what Jesus’s resurrection-life means for the early Church. And all because he encountered Jesus along the way!
As we receive in each week of Eastertide the deepening invitation to “Come to life,” may the light of Christ shine brightly on our way and open up new possibilities for us!
Yours in Christ