Sunday, 4 December 2016

Prepare with faith

Sitting in the balcony seats of a theatre watching the opening of Godspell. There is a hair raising moment as a superb tenor calls from beneath you - 'Prepare Ye the way of the Lord' (Godspell) - it reverberates through the theatre and sends shivers down the spine. On this Sunday, this is what we are called to do. Prepare in faith and with faith as we listen to John's vituperative outburst against those who come to him (Matt 3.7).  A tongue lashing about their own faith as they come to a preparation to receive a new spirit of God's presence in their lives. A tongue lashing that comes from the liminal spaces of the desert margins to the overly pretentious religious of the day.  A call from the margins that extends into the future to today and beyond.

John's call from the margins needs to be heard by all who profess a faith as it is a persistent call to those who believe that they are centred in God / Christ. Just as John called out to those who were not practicing their faith genuinely within the society of their time, we are also asked to be that voice on the margin.  We are all called to be voices from the margins of the societies that we live in.  However, we must remember that John called to his own and is a signpost on the way towards Christ, pointing towards a new future that must be taken in faith.  We must realise that we are required to point out our own faults and our own lacks first, before we can portray the Christic life.  In our preparations for the incarnation we often neglect John the Baptist's call to examine our own behaviours.  We are expectant in our faith journey at this time of year for the incarnation, as we should be, but are so future orientated that we forget our present circumstances.  How can we come before Christ incarnate if we have not realised our own faults and brokenness?

No matter how we perceive ourselves as a faith based community we are called by that faith to reveal Christ within ourselves and part of that revelation is to see ourselves as others perceive us. Then and only then can we be the true prophetic voice that calls to the world, reminding the world what it is to live as Christ.  For example, the Dalai Lama has reiterated and reminds us that violence in the name of any religion or faith is one that is anathema to that faith. All faiths and those that adhere to those faiths look towards a life that is premised on relationship and God's love. Yet, when we look around the world all we see is the violence that we perpetrate upon each other that arises out of our own lack.  Our own lack or willingness to embrace the other with a childlike faith.  Such a faith knows no bounds in its acceptance of the other.  Until we can come ourselves into such an acceptance we will fail in our faith journey towards Christ. And violence is only one thing that denies us the totality of living a Christic life.

You do not have to see the outcome. Just step out in faith.

We have a habit of judging the worth of someone or the feasibility of something from our own internal pre-judgements, most of which are formed from first impressions.  Isaiah that right judgement is a sign of Christ's presence (Is. 11.4).  We do not judge on outward appearances for if we do it is very unlikely that the lion will feed with the calf.  We will avoid the two and go with either this or that, for us it is incomprehensible for both this and that to come together.  Two opposites can never mix and yet Christ brings the two together as one not as polar opposites.  If we are not open to Christ's Spirit we are not open to an acceptance of another way of seeing.  Isaiah, Christ and poets often see things from a different angle.  We are asked to step into, with, and alongside faith knowing that the dream of impossibilities is open to us.  Only when we accept this faith journey (a darkness in the future that turns to light as we approach) will we come to truly understand Christ's presence in our lives.

A challenge:
Can you dream of 50 different ways to use the worship space that you attend without repeating yourself and without specifying it as worship?  In opening ourselves up in such a way we allow ourselves to start to imagine the topsy turvey world that would be if we all lived into Christ.

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