When God breaks in…
As we begin a new church year we do so with a sense of anticipation for the coming of Christ into our world. We look back to incarnation of our Lord in Bethlehem and we also look forward to the end of the age when Christ will return in glory. These two salvation events anchor our lives in the grace, love and faithfulness of our God who comes to us to accomplish for us what we could never accomplish for ourselves.
These two great events are also central to the mission Christ has given us as his church. On the one hand, like the Apostle Paul, we preach nothing but Jesus Christ and him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:2). Our proclamation is grounded in the reality that God, in Christ, entered into the human story, put on our flesh, lived among us and died for us. In Him we see the very face of God and in him we receive the gift of life. This message is the power of God unto salvation and the very thing our broken world yearns to know. We are his ambassadors who bear the treasure of this very good news.
On the other hand, our Lord’s promise to return and establish his kingdom in the new heaven and the new earth (Revelation 21), re-orients us to that which matters eternally. The One who graciously came to our rescue on Calvary, will again return to dwell with His people forever. The implication for us is clear: there is more to life than this present age. Our mission is shaped by this truth. C.S. Lewis observes “If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this” (Mere Christianity). When we have the end in view, we live differently in the present. The necessity and urgency of sharing Christ with our neighbors and communities is brought into light.
A new church year is a great time to reflect the initiating grace of God in Christ who breaks into our world. However, Advent is not merely a time of personal reflection, it is a time to recommit ourselves to the mission of Christ in our world. Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again. May God the Holy Spirit empower us individually, and our churches corporately, for his mission!
Yours in Christ, Bishop David