Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Challenge of Easter - with elaboration...

Dear Parish Faithful,


Pascha: The Thirty Third Day

Human beings know in their bones that they are made for each other, made to look after and shape this world, made to worship the one in whose image they are made. But like Israel with her vocation, we get it wrong. We worship other gods and start to reflect their likeness instead. We distort our vocation to stewardship into the will to power, treating God's world as either a gold mine or an ashtray. And we distort our calling to beautiful, healing, creative many-sided human relationships into exploitation and abuse.

Marx, Nietzsche and Freud described a fallen world in which money, power and sex have become the norm, displacing relationship, stewardship and worship. Part of the point of postmodernity under the strange providence of God is to preach the Fall to arrogant modernity. What we are faced with in our culture is the post-Christian version of the doctrine of original sin: all human endeavor is radically flawed, and the journalists who take delight in pointing this out are simply telling over again the story of Genesis 3 as applied to today's leaders, politicians, royalty and rock stars.

Our task, as image-bearing, God-loving, Christ-shaped, Spirit-filled Christians, following Christ and shaping our world, is to announce redemption to the world that has discovered its fallenness, to announce healing to the world that has discovered its brokenness, to proclaim love and trust to the world that knows only exploitation, fear and suspicion.

Humans were made to reflect God's creative stewardship into the world. Israel was made to bring God's rescuing love to bear upon the world. Jesus came as the true Israel, the world's true light, and as the true image of the invisible God. He was the true Jew, the true human. He has laid the foundation, and we must build upon it. We are to be the bearers both of his redeeming love and of his creative stewardship: to celebrate it, to model it, to proclaim it, to dance to it.

From The Challenge of Easter, by N. T. Wright

Fr. Steven

Added May 7, 2010:

Dear Parish Faithful & Friends in Christ,

Christ is Risen!

As a follow-up to the passage I sent out earlier this morning from N. T. Wright, someone asked me to provide some further context for some of Wright's phrases or expressions. I did this below, and thought to share this with the everyone else.


Dear Father Steven,

He is Risen Indeed!

Could you please provide context or interpretation to the following statements? What grabbed my attention most was the last sentence in which Jesus is referred to as ‘the true Jew, the true human.’ I had an interesting conversation with my sister recently about Jesus, a Jew and the Son of God. What is it that makes him the ‘true’ Jew?

In Christ, John

Humans were made to reflect God's creative stewardship into the world.

We are to care for the world on behalf of God, not exploit the world. This unique role for human beings is first clearly stated in Gen. 1. This is our human vocation as being created "in the image and likeness of God." We our rational, creative, and loving beings. Pollution and environmental disasters are a result of neglecting those gifts and our responsibility before God and manipulating the world around us for our selfish gain and desires. From within the Church we can renew this vocation as the stewards of God, and nurture the world in a non-exploitative manner. This is the role of a "steward" acting on behalf of a higher authority; in this case God Himself! This is a basic "Orthodox environmentalism" that is not linked to any given political agendas "left" or "right."

Israel was made to bring God's rescuing love to bear upon the world.

Israel was formed by God to be His chosen people through whom, eventually, and "in the fulness of time," the Messiah/Savior would appear bringing a universal gift of reconciliation and salvation. This was Israel's vocation as the chosen people of God. The prophets understood this, and always spoke the "word of God" - as chastisement or consolation - to Israel when it strayed from its vocation, so as to bring Israel to its senses. Israel would even have to"suffer," if need be, to complete that God-given vocation. Understood in this wider perspective as serving God by serving the world, and not its own nationalistic or ethnic goals, the Law/Torah of Israel was a "custodian/guide" preparing for the coming of the Messiah.

Jesus came as the true Israel, the world's true light, and as the true image of the invisible God.

The image of light pervades the Scriptures as an image of freedom from the darkness of sin and alienation from God. Jesus is that light - "I am the light of the world" as we hear Him declare in the Gospel According to St. John. Through the risen Christ our minds and hearts can be illumined by that light and, again, slowly be liberated from the darkness of evil impulses and sin. As the "image of the invisible God" (COL. 1:15), the Son of God is eternal and of one nature with His eternal Father. Jesus is the eternal Son of God become flesh (JN. 1:14). To "see" Jesus is to see God. He makes the invisible visible.

He was the true Jew, the true human.

Jesus is the "true Jew" for He totally and absolutely embodies the vocation of Israel - fulfilling the Law in total obedience to His heavenly Father as the Suffering Servant of God. Salvation became universal following the death and resurrection of the Messiah Jesus. Gentiles and Jews are no longer divided, but now united in the one Body of Christ. In a sense, Jesus was Israel's "gift" to the world, in fulfillment of God's eternal design for the world's salvation and eventual glorification. Jesus is the "true human" as the sinless Son of God. To see Jesus is to see the human face of God in the incarnate Son. In Him, the divine and human natures were united once for all, thus restoring our lost communion with God. All of human nature is now healed. Thus, Jesus is the "last Adam," or the representative man - embracing all men and women - who healed the failed vocation of the first Adam. He is also the "first-fruits of them that have fallen asleep" (I COR. 15:20). The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead anticipates the resurrection of all human beings at the end of time, the final destruction of the "last enemy" - death - and a transformed and glorified cosmos in which God will be "all in all" (I COR. 15:28)

I hope that proves to be of some help.

In Christ,

Fr. Steven

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