We Remember and we Look Forward

So its Advent – hooray! (I think).

Advent which means coming and we look back and celebrate and thank God that he came in human form to this old world. And it is an Advent which changes everything, (just re-read today’s quotation.)

But we also speak of a Second Advent, the day when Christ will return again. So all our celebrating is also a straining forward and anticipation of His return.

And tonight, we share communion together. We know that we do this ‘in remembrance’ but we also do it in anticipation. Sharing the bread and wine is a foretaste of that which we will experience when fully united with Christ and as such, that is definitely worth celebrating.

 


When I first read the tweet . . .

. . . which forms today’s ‘Quote of the Week’, I thought that Justin Welby was expressing his sadness at a Christian attack on a Muslim mosque in Nigeria which had killed more than 50 people. I had assumed that he was expressing his sadness at a misguided act which denied the calling of being Christ’s disciples and was about hate for neighbour rather than love.

But reading the newspaper the following day I discovered it is believed that the attack in Mubi was likely to have been enacted by Muslim terrorists Boko Harem on their own Islamic people. This puts a different slant on Welby’s tweet.

In expressing his sadness and his own prayers Welby was demonstrating a big vision of a big God. The God who is Lord of all people whether they acknowledge him or not. Let’s not keep God to ourselves, but follow the Archbishop’s example and share him with the world.

 


There is no little irony . . .

. . . in the fact that it is during our weeks in John 6, that we hear of the sale of an artwork of Jesus which sells for $450million.

As we learnt last week, Jesus offers us life, true life, life that satisfies, and it won’t cost us a penny.

Yet people do not come easily, or always willingly to Jesus. We like to think that the decision about who Jesus is and what he offers is ours to make. So we size him up, check the claims and draw our conclusions; a bit like authenticating a work of art.

 

Today however, we will find that no one can come to Jesus unless he draws us to him. In truth the boot is on the other foot. We bring nothing to the table. He is the ‘Salvadore Mundi’, the Saviour of the world, and we can not save ourselves.

 


Who do you think you are?

Like me you may have been someone who, having read the Gospel accounts of Jesus, got the impression that what Jesus said and did, well they were just inevitable. Jesus, Saviour of the world, who is on a journey to Jerusalem, who at every step does what has been mapped out and he simply does what he was only ever going to do.

But what if it wasn’t actually like that?

What if the story of Jesus’ life was an unravelling one. One where he has decisions and choices to make, options about what he is to say, or even who he is to be. We see this clearly in stories like the temptation at the start of his ministry and in the garden near the end of it. And we’ll see it today, in John 6, as Jesus wows the crowd by feeding 5,000 but, facing the possibility of being a popularist leader, decides on a different route. The route to be a different kind of leader, a different kind of king, a different kind of Messiah.

 


Giles Fraser . . .

. . . if you haven’t come across him before, might be described as a modern-day Daniel in the lion’s den. He is an Anglican priest who writes a weekly column for the less than pro-faith Guardian newspaper and is a regular on BBC Radio 4’s Thought for the Day.

And he’s not one to shy away from controversy. This week he railed against how faith is portrayed by the BBC citing the co-presenters of Radio 4’s Today who described Thought for the Day as ‘deeply, deeply boring’ – John Humphries and ‘they are all roughly the same’ – Justin Webb.

In response Fraser argues – Quite simply, you cannot understand the world unless you understand something about the way that faith functions in the lives of its adherents.

Thought for the Day is two minutes and 40 seconds of God-talk in a three-hour radio programme about politics, sport and culture. Discussions about the racing tips often take up as much time as that given over to the world’s faiths.

Which made me think. Where are we having our daily conversation about faith in a secular world? A few snatched minutes, in a day filled with activity, media and screens?