Sunday, 16 April 2017

New life or the same old same old

Baptism is for us the founding event in our spiritual lives.  It is at this moment that our parents and godparents set us on a path that says "Be as Christ".  In confirmation those whose lives have been given to Christ at the moment of baptism accept the path and begin to grow into that image of being as Christ.  Yet at the end of the day this commitment is in fact a scary one. Even though we make those promises, we have to be reminded on a yearly basis what that looks like.  New life is not as easy as we think for any of us.  Turning over a new leaf in our lives is full of hazards and is potentially devastating.  So it is not surprising that Christ tells his disciples "Do not be afraid" (Matt 28.10).

Only an idiot would be unafraid of a drastic change in their lives.  We are all afraid because we are comfortable with the life that we have.  In accepting the journey to be like Christ we are accepting something that will ruin the life that we live at present.  It means that unlike our fellow men and women we will not be living a life of comfort and ease.  It means that we will not have the space to do what we would like to do.  It means being available to God's call at every moment of our lives.  So yes we are afraid to make such a change that impacts on every single thing we do.  It means that we have to radically change the way we think of everything around us.  Not just what we think and say but every single action should be geared towards an expression of Christic love in our lives.  It is not easy and it is not always pleasant; and, yes, it is a tough choice that requires our whole commitment to, so that we can follow a vision of humanity that was created by God.

Greet the dawn of a new life in the midst of uncertainty

Just to illustrate what such a change actually means for our lives.  Most of us would say that we have very firm political views.  These views may have been instilled over generations which have resulted in your own voting and behavioural patterns when it comes to elections. In turning to Christ and accepting the cross that Christ has carried we are asked to question those patterns of behaviour.  We are asked to set out God's manifesto of justice (distributive), love, community and non-retaliatory violence.  Once we have undertaken that and compared it with the manifesto of our favourite political party and see if they reflect each other.  Our choice is not about tradition but rather about our commitment to the vision of God.  Parents and godparents bring their children to God as an answer to God's salvific purposes.  God asks them to publicly declare that they will bring the child up to be Christlike.  This means that they are to be taught to become selfless in their outlook, accepting of the other and form relational community with humanity.  Those of us who have been baptised are reminded of this each time that a child is brought to the font for baptism and as we renew our own vows each Easter. This is a big task.  Be afraid.

Yet, Christ says to his disciples "Do not be afraid".  Why?  Given the enormity of the task and the disruption it means to our comfortable lives.  In living our lives as Christlike  we have the comfort of God's love, it brings us joy in adversity, it brings us hope in despair, it brings us new life in death. Only when we realise and commit to living a risen life do we begin to make the radical changes that sees an end to suffering.   We begin to see with clarity the gifts of God's presence in the now and the future in God's new world free from suffering and pain.  We live in Christ and he lives in us showing us the hope, love, joy and happiness that is found in God.  Why be afraid of these things?  Can we not see beyond our own selfishness?  The risen Christ answers with hope, love and justice drawing us into his resurrected life.

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