Sunday, 8 January 2017

Playing favourites

As we come out from the season of Christmas into the New Year what are we expecting and what do we wish for in terms of our Christian and faith journey? and are these the same?  This is perhaps a question that we do not often put to ourselves and indeed we automatically assume that they are the same.  The initiation of our faith and Christian journey is in baptism and on this last day of the Christmas season we celebrate the baptism of Christ by John. In doing so we could perhaps see this as indicating the complete connection between the two events.  Yet, our baptism is the baptism in Christ who has died whereas Christ's baptism is the baptism of John who was re-initiating the covenant of God in the hearts of those who came to him.  Indeed John sought Christ's baptism (Matt 3.14).  Christ's own journey into God's presence begins here with John's baptism as it is Christ who sees and Christ who hears (Matt. 3.16-17), a journey that drives him into the desert places.  A drive outwards not inwards, not simply into the desert but also eventually into society.  Towards God in community not simply and only inwards towards God in solitude.

Let our faith journeys be lights in the world.

The community of the people of God are given a sign of hope in the coming of God's servant (Is. 42. 1-7).  A hope that extends not just to Israel as God's chosen people, but to 'all nations' (Is. 42.1b).  This is a journey that is extended away from the personal into the community of the world no matter where that belief in God is found.  This is perhaps the one thing that we tend to forget in our exuberance of bringing the Good News to the world.  We focus on baptising everyone rather than bringing the Good News.  Jesus asks for baptism, the child's parents ask for baptism of the child, the confirmation candidate asks for their confirmation.  We are commissioned by God to go out into the world.  The world came to Christ in the Magi and Christ went into the world to give and proclaim the good news.  Our focus is and always should be the demonstration and proclamation in all we do as to what the good news is rather than on proclaiming our spiritual journey.  Christ's spiritual journey drives him out away from the crowds but his proclamation of the good news and God's Kingdom drives him into community.

We are reminded of this outward pull by Peter in Acts as he to comes to the realisation that God is not confined to the rules of man but to the compassion of God for all people (Acts 10.34).  Our faith journey is our discovery of God within ourselves while our Christian journey drives us into community accepting all as part of God.  It is in this realisation that we find the hope of God's kingdom.  In proclaiming our faith we need to involve ourselves with all people not just with those who are 'christian'.  We misunderstand our role in God's Kingdom when we look just to bring our personal views into fruition.  It is God who enables those who want Baptism to come to God and ask as part of their spiritual journey.  As Christians we are called to set the example that will enable those not baptised to seek baptism not play favourites.  If we do not set that example how can we expect people to come to God and choose that commitment.  If we are unable to do God's works of justice, righteousness and peace in the community how do we expect people to see God?  In another place in scripture the disciples say that they should stop someone, who is not a part of them, who is doing good works but Christ says if they are not against us they are with us. Can we deny those who are not baptised their right to do what God has asked for in doing God's work perhaps they are closer to god then we are on our own journey.  We are asked to grow both as Christians and within our personal spiritual journey towards God, this may not be quite the same thing.  Let us bring hope not build divisions. cultivate love and not destroy in hatred.  Christ went into the world and s also should we.

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