Alleluia, Christ is risen! He is risen indeed. Alleluia! This is our cry as we celebrate the period between Easter and Pentecost, a period of celebration in which we rejoice in the gift of freedom – freedom from the destructive power of sin and evil and death – and the gift of fullness of eternal life that Jesus’ death and resurrection have won for us. What does it mean to be a people of resurrection, a people of abundant life, a people who count God as a friend?
As Anglicans we are profoundly accomplished at preparing for the party – and by this I refer to the deep and meaningful way in which we approach Lent and Advent. However, we are not very good at enjoying the party. We find it difficult to express joy in our worship, and often hold back on our emotion. Part of this is something of the nature of our collective personality: Anglicans have an inbuilt introversion when it comes to expressing our faith, either in worship or in sharing our faith with others. We need to work – hard – at developing this side of our nature and bringing balance both to our relationship with God, and to our relationship with the world. One of my favourite passages of scripture is the Wedding at Cana in John’s Gospel where God, through Jesus, turns water into wine at a point in the wedding celebration where people have already had too much to drink – and on top of this he produces wine of premium quality! We have in this passage of scripture an insight into the nature of God, who rejoices in over-abundance when it comes to humanity’s experience of the goodness of life and of his Grace. Let us not fear experiencing this over-abundance in our own lives and worship – for we have been set free from fear through Jesus’ resurrection – and let us open our lives afresh to God that we may celebrate joyfully the eternal gift of life in visible fashion.
As your newly instituted Rector, this is my prayer for us at Corpus Christi as we move towards the celebration of Pentecost.
I thanked you all last month for our welcome among you, and we continue to be blessed by the joy many of you continue to express in our presence here at Corpus Christi. A particular thank you for the wonderful gift of food and drink that we received as we moved into our new house in Lancelot Road (where we are now happily settled!). My special thanks to all who have held this parish in the palm of God’s hand during the interregnum – it has clearly been a joint effort, and well done at that. My thanks go to all who have given leadership, especially the churchwardens, council, lay-ministers and assistant clergy, during this time. Their leadership, though, would have meant nothing without all your participation and support.
An interregnum is primarily a period of maintenance and waiting, although growth is not unknown as, in the absence of a Rector, the weight of responsibility truly falls on others who learn and grow greatly in the experience. My institution by Bishop Jo Seoka on Saturday 16 April 2005, clearly marked the end of this period of waiting, and it is now time to move forward. I believe we need to move forward in acknowledgement of the past, but not hindered by it, and we need to move forward in openness to God’s purposes for us as a Christian Community. Bishop Jo spoke at my institution of the importance of prayer, and reminded us that our Christian activity needs to flow out of prayer and out of time immersed in God’s very presence; and so I ask that we be a praying parish. I understand prayer to be primarily conversation with God – a process of expression and listening. Let us express to God our desires and hopes for this community, and let us listen for how he wishes to weave these desires and hopes into the fabric of our community life: speak up, but also listen up!
Corpus Christi, the body of Christ: an intrinsic concept underlying Christian mission and ministry. This is who we are, this is our name, this is how God knows us. What does it mean? For me, personally, the concept of the body of Christ reflects an inclusive working together of all Christians – without regard to position, status, or culture – towards the growth of God’s Kingdom in the world. A part of my vision for the church, and thus for us here at Corpus Christi is the following:
My dream begins to find expression in a transforming Church building God’s Kingdom in the world: a Church that is resourced by Kingdom builders, and served by Christ-followers; a Church that is effective as an instrument of God, presenting a Christ-centred Gospel; a Church as institution that seeks relevance and flexibility in addressing the needs of society, that engages proactively with a fast changing and developing world environment, that builds and networks faith-support structures for our society, especially for those engaged in business, government and community leadership; a Church focused on equipping both individuals and communities to serve God in their everyday lives. A Church structured to the primary focus of mission as the everyday environment of the Christ-follower.
I look forward to exploring this with you in the context of who we are in this parish over the next few months.
Yours in Christ