Both inspired by and in spite of my name, I like to do a little cheffery,
testing out the various properties and tastes of foods, and what makes them as they are
One thing I have relatively recently become aware of is Celery and its various tastes
Did you know, that the nature and taste of celery is specifically related to nature of light
The way the light shines changes the way that things grow
In one sense, the Sun is the same no matter where we are on earth
in fact, the Sun itself doesn’t change, depending on where we are
But our experiences of the sun, and the particular nature of its qualities
are perceived quite differently here, from Germany, or Geneva,
or Scotland, or North America.
Different things grow, or similar things grow in different ways.
The Sun is the same, but our experiences, perceptions and interpretations change
Or to put it in more theological terms for today
The Son is the same, but our experiences, perceptions and interpretations change.
The Uniting Church was formed (finally) in 1977.
Initial conversations started around 1900. Things in the church move slowly
One of the most important foundations in the coming together
was the passage we have read this morning:hat through the unity of believers, the world may realise that Jesus is the son of God.
In the key period leading up to the formation of the Uniting Church, demonstrating unity was linked really closely to institutional unity. That was the way that the light shone.
Its an interesting study that could be had, I think, about the way that we understand unity
And although it is not exclusively generational, I think there is some pretty heavy links.
For people who were adult in the time of the formation and lead into formation of the UCA
unity is often associated with “structuring something so that we can all do it together”
For the church as a whole, this led to the push towards denominational unity:
in our case, the UCA
My guess is if the who thing were pushed along 30-40 years, and the question was now
I think it is possibly unlikely that the UCA would be born:
institutional unity isn’t as much of a priority for the 2 generations that have come.
Do you want a local example of the same sort of thinking?
From time to time here at Kippax, we hold combined Sunday services.
And do you know who I hear from almost exclusively about how good it is
that we be united by doing this all together?
The generations who were adults by the mid to late 70s.
Unity doesn’t always need to be expressed institutionally
But even with the UCA, even with its institutional flavour, the aim was a little different.
The Basis of Union – which has Jesus front, centre, and woven strongly throughout –
is very very clear. We are built on the foundation of the Risen Christ.
But one of the most important things about the self-understanding of the UCA
is the relationship between Christ and the Church.
The Uniting Church is an expression of a particular understanding of this relationship
It was key at the time of Union – and I hope and believe it is still strong today.
That understanding is that while the risen Christ is the foundation of the Church
Christ does not belong to the church.
We would understand (I hope) that the risen Christ was risen into the world
and not risen into the Church.
The church is a by-product of the resurrection, and not the place of the resurrection.
The Church is an institution formed by Christ’s presence,
but Christ is actually a wandering alien, not a resident church ruler.
Christ is risen into the world, we are reminded in each of the gospels,
and on his way into history and into the fullness of God’s reign
The true location of the Church is in the future of God’s coming kingdom
not in the present of the world’s settings.
The Church is a future oriented body – an eschatological being, you might say.
On Christ’s way into the future of God’s reign,
Christ forms and then leads (maybe drags) the church as his witnesses.
That is why the Uniting Church states that
In his own strange way, Christ constitutes and rules the church”
We acknowledge that we are a strange being.
But – and here is an absolutely vital part of our self-understanding in the UCA –
If Christ is risen into the world, and forms the Church along the way,
our basic orientation as we seek Christ and seek to be true to Christ,
is an orientation to the world, not to the church.
That is where we look for the presence of God.
We have to be open to others, and to expressions of living beyond the life of the church
NOT because we are a product of any general liberal tolerant tendencies of the 1960s
but actually because of our understanding of Jesus Christ.
Christ is risen into the world, and we are built on the foundation of Christ
That, as just one example,
is why when we are seeking to fund projects beyond the life of Kippax
for the ongoing development of the movement of God,
we will actively consider some that are church based and some that are not.
It is fundamental to who we believe Christ is that we do that.
34 years on, and the Son is still the same
But my guess is that 34 years on, the experience, perception and interpretations of the Son
are not quite the same
So we will, just like the celery, have a different feel or flavour.
But still we remain a pilgrim people,
on the way to the promised end,
fed by Christ through word and sacrament
and living to the eternal glory of God through Jesus Christ