Advent IV Reflection
What does it mean to be a Christian? To be a Christian church?
Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury, answers the question this way: “(to) be a Christian is to believe we are commanded and authorized to say certain things to the world; to say things that will make disciples of all nations.”
To be the Church, then, means we are commanded, and authorized, to say things together… to the world. By means of our Scriptures and songs; in the sacraments and sermons and missions, we proclaim the whole redeeming counsel of God, the message of the Bible…
That, one way or the other, God made all that is and behold it was very good…
But something went awfully bad wrong, in us and the world, and the earth, and all its people languished…
At first God determined to destroy his creation; then chose to repopulate the world… then chose a nation to be a means of healing and redemption in the world: Abraham and his descendants… and then, when Israel’s prophets, priests and kings were unable to heal the broken world…
God chose to send Jesus: Jesus, also descended from Abraham, to accomplish in his own person what the holy nation could not…
And now God chooses to enlist us, as he did Mary, Joseph, the shepherds and wise men, Simeon and Anna: to bring Jesus into the world with praise and celebration.
Mary: but the first of many God-bearers.
Joseph: the first Christian.
The Shepherds and Wise Men: the first congregations.
Simeon and Anna: only the first evangelists.
And we at Hawthorne Lane… but the latest to be chosen for God’s purposes in the world.
God has uniquely (not exclusively!) loved us and gathered us together; has uniquely gifted us with scriptures and songs, with sacraments and gifts of the Spirit, and sent us; to make a godly, light-bearing difference in the dark, ungodly world.
Which is exactly why Rowan Williams says, We each and all are commanded and authorized to say, “Jesus: He is the Way, the Truth, the Life. Come, follow him! Be a part of the great healing work God is doing.”
Indeed, during Advent and Christmas we, here, have said all that, in hymns, and scriptures, sacraments and sermons. And we invite you to come be a part of the work God is doing at Hawthorne Lane, a part of God’s healing work in the world.