For the past 6 weeks
we have been trying to ground ourselves in the life and times of Jesus.
And here’s my guess for you:
Not everyone has agreed with everything that I have said, or that Borg and Crossan said.
Not everyone has found our focus comfortable –
though at the same time, others have found it very helpful.
But the reason we have been doing it is to try and remedy
a gaping hole in traditional Christianity.
Some of you will know the two most commonly used “creeds” or statements of belief.
They are called the Nicene creed and the Apostles’ creed.
They were both written in the 4th century and are both still used across the churches
We use the Apostles’ creed at the time of baptisms here at Kippax.
But they both have glaring errors.
The Nicene creed, in the middle bit, speaks about Jesus in this way …
… for us, and for our salvation, he came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man;
he was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate,
and suffered, and was buried, and the third day he rose again,
The Apostles creed, in the equivalent middle bit, speaks about Jesus in this way …
I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again
Notice anything missing? Jesus’ life seems totally irrelevant.
They may as well have crucified the baby as far as the creeds go.
But we don’t consider a crucified baby – our Easter observations are of a crucified man.
The resurrection – a cornerstone of the Christian faith –
only makes sense in the light of the crucifixion
and the crucifixion only makes sense in the light of the life that led up to it.
And so we have been trying over the past few weeks to get a sense of the life of Jesus.
Why did Jesus die? Because of the way that he lived.
And he lived in a particular setting, in a particular time,
with particular people around him.
Faith is a real world thing.
If we don’t take the real world seriously, then we deserve to be mocked.
If our faith has to run away from natural science or psychology or medicine
or cant work with the intricacies of politics and power
then we are best to shut up shop, sell the assets and go and do something realistic.
My favourite theologian – Jürgen Moltmann –
suggests that the creeds need to add something
“at least in thought”, he says – we need to add something between born and suffered:
He was baptised by John the Baptist, and filled with the Holy Spirit,
to proclaim God’s kingdom to the poor, to heal the sick, to receive the rejected
to awaken Israel for the salvation of the nations and to have mercy on all human beings.
My guess is that Borg and Crossan would probably add a slightly different section
but no doubt they would add a section.
So our Easter affirmation of “Christ is Risen” and that life is stronger than death
is a real world affirmation, not a head in the sand affirmation.
For those who cannot accept the view that justice comes in the form of the cross and the empty tomb and not with those who have the best firepower, we say Christ is Risen
For those who cannot tolerate the message that says quality of life is found in simplicity rather than consumption, we say Christ is Risen
For those who cannot accept that God will love and bless those who do not submit to the will of official leadership, we say Christ is Risen
And today’s reading takes us into the context of Jesus’ life.
Today’s reading only makes sense in the context of the life and times of Jesus
that we have been working with closely this past 2 months.
Peace be with you
Now: As the father sent me, I send you …
And so out we are to go, to witness to the reality of new life,
to witness to God’s passion for justice and love,
and to oppose everything that would destroy and degrade the beauty
that God intended for the created world.
Out we go to make known the good news of God’s all-inclusive love
and freely offered forgiveness.
Out we go, to make it known that the occupying powers that seek to squash life
may claim that they are “Lord”, but our reality is that they are not.
And in a very real way in that, we are not just followers of the risen Christ,
we are to be Christ to others.
We are to be the ones who mediate God’s acceptance and forgiveness to others
We are to be the ones who turn the world upside down when we see that it is unjust
We are to be the ones who advocate for different laws
and when needed to break the laws that are here
We are to be the ones who create a different story for people
so that they can see that there is more than they are currently experiencing.
Jesus lived in the context of economic and power exploitation by a foreign power
Jesus invited people into new stories of hope and care
and sought to turn the world upside down through non-violence and sharing power.
How much of that is our context?
We only know when we take our context seriously.
When we truly immerse ourselves in this world. As the father sent me, I send you
We will question, we will doubt, we will struggle,
because like Thomas we aren’t always where we want to be to know more
and to experience what others get to experience.
And in all of that God will continue to be with us.