Christians believe in a God who speaks – a God who spoke through the prophets and priests of ancient Israel, who spoke supremely in the words and actions of Jesus of Nazareth, who has spoken to the Christian Church through the words and deeds of martyrs, saints and others, and who still speaks, especially when the Bible is studied and preached and the sacraments are administered. The God of Christian belief is not a theory but the living God, who calls us to his service. This is an awesome thought – that the Creator of a universe so inconceivably enormous in time and space should seek the love and loyalty of members of a human race who are so destructive of the planet earth and its fellow human beings.
The suffering and anguish that human behaviour must cause to God is glimpsed in the crucifixion of Jesus. The costly offer of God’s free forgiveness that is made possible by the Cross and endorsed by Christ’s resurrection is the basis of the hope that Christians have, that the world and humanity can be created anew. The possibilities of a new creation are glimpsed in the words and actions of Jesus that bring close to human beings what is called the Kingdom of God – a sphere of right relationships embracing all aspects of human life, whether social, economic, industrial, artistic, intellectual or aesthetic. To be a Christian involves accepting the call to embrace and be inspired by the vision of the Kingdom of God.
Worship in a church seeks to do justice to two central themes – the majesty and the mercy of God. The forms of service aim to convey something of the awesome majesty of God. The preaching and the administration of the sacraments attempt to proclaim and make real that mercy of God on which no-one can presume, but which affirms and changes those who are embraced by it. Members of a congregation seek to serve the Kingdom of God in various ways – in their daily lives and in what they do together through their church in worship, learning and outreach – as they seek to know more fully what is God’s will for them, in the service of the Kingdom.
|Christ in Gethsemane
This wonderfully expressive stone relief of Christ in prayer was first noticed by Professor John Rogerson during a 1980s visit to Gethsemane. It is quite small and hidden away in a quiet corner of the Garden. John has never discovered who sculpted it or placed it there: can anyone tell us more? Outlook readers may like to use it to start off their Easter reflections.
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