Archive | January, 2020

Flesh and blood

27 Jan

It is very easy for many Christians to associate the words flesh and blood with the Eucharist or the Lord’s Supper – with the reference to Body and Blood in the accounts of the last supper. But in the Letter to the Hebrews (in the passage read for the feast of the Presentation (Luke 2:14-18) the use of the phrase is different. The Greek phrase used by the author would be better translated as ‘the human race’ or ‘humanity – it would then read “so since children share in the human race, Jesus also shares in this with them…”   This interpretation is confirmed when it goes on to refer to dying as all humans do and to all being the same as the offspring of Abraham, and even further when it refers to the implication for humanity that Jesus’ life has. He was tempted as we all are but the fact that He was a good person for the whole of His life makes the rest of us benefit for it is possible for humanity to be free from sin, and because Jesus has shown this to be the case, He is called by the author a ‘high priest’ i.e. one who indicates and shows the way of life to others.

A light for all

20 Jan

With the low sun at this time of the year, and with my furniture in unusual arrangements for seasonal partying, I saw the dust that had been overlooked for a long time. Without light we cannot see the good never mind the deficient. It is so easy for a ‘good’ Christian to look at the ‘lapsed’ who now don’t go to church, or at the ‘secular’ who generally ignore religion. It even seems to make us more ‘proud’ of ourselves to ‘look down’ on others. Oh we might not do this very openly or obviously, but we can easily think that we church goers are somewhat better than others.

The Jews before and during Jesus’ time were like this – proud that they were the chosen people, that God was their god. But the prophets in due course, tried to overcome this selfishness, to preach against it – as in the readings for today – but only in a limited way – that the chosen might be a light to the Gentiles. We now have to go further than this, for God’s love is for all people and His salvation offered to all. It is not necessarily those who claim to be Christians but rather those who do the very best they can with the ability that they have – it is those who will be ‘first in the Kingdom of Heaven.’   A poem by M D Goulder about the women (of low esteem) – ancestors of Jesus in Matthew’s gospel – ends expressing this in a challenging way:

“And a mother unmarried, it was too that carried

God’s Son, and him laid in a manger of straw,

That the moral might wait at the heavenly gate

While the sinners and publicans go in before,

Who have not earned their place, but received it by grace,

And have found them a righteousness not of the law.

Your calling

13 Jan

Your vocation

The prophet writes of his, and his nation’s vocation and still the Jews are sometimes referred to as the chosen people. We Christians like to think that we are chosen both as individuals and as a group. For any other – secular- vocation, you have to learn whatever is necessary, become skilled not just in the knowledge but in the practice. A person’s vocation often dominates their lives, the friends that they have, the way that they think and talk and the ‘standing’ that they have iin society.

We should apply all this to ourselves as Christians. Do all know that’s what we are, do we practice the skills that this calls on, should we continue our learning about our vocation and develop the skills that it calls us to have – mother, a teacher a bricklayer, a miner, a judge, an actress – whatever. But overall our other positions in society, we have the vocation of being Christilike.

Re-commit!

6 Jan

John the Baptist was something of an extrovert and a dramatic personality.  It is such a person that is both bold enough to attract a crowd and suggest to them total immersion in the river.  I guess crowds would have been drawn to him mostly out of curiosity.  The gospels tell us that Jesus went to where John was and offered himself for baptism to express his commitment to God.  And it was after this dramatic experience of baptism that He began his public life of commitment to helping all to become more the person God wanted them to be.  For some it was a challenge or even a renewal – physically, mentally and spiritually.  But some people would shun this challenge of commitment for a less generous and safely rigid way of life – perhaps like the lives of the Pharisees and Saducees.

Since the earliest forms of Christianity baptism has been used as an expression of an intention and willingness to emulate Jesus’ example of how to live. Some people still use a symbolic baptism (sprinling ony) as an outward sign of the intended renewal but (alas) for many Christians it has been a wish of parents for their babies and so it was done to those unwitting infants unable to make such a commitment. This happened to me so I, as an adult, must trouble to recommit myself – which I have to do it repeatedly.  Maybe we all should seriously do this again and again in some way – re-commiting ourselves.