A MINISTER’S MUSINGS……………………………………………ON JESUS
A Song of Faith, a Statement of Faith of The United Church of Canada, 2006
We sing of Jesus, a Jew, born to a woman in poverty in a time of social upheaval and political oppression, He knew human joy and sorrow. So filled with the Holy Spirit was he that in him people experienced the presence of God among them. We sing praise to God incarnate. Jesus announced the coming of God’s reign, a commonwealth not of domination but of peace, justice and reconciliation. He healed the sick and fed the hungry. He forgave sins and freed those held captive by all manner of demonic powers. He crossed barriers of race, class, culture and gender. He preached and practised unconditional love of God, love of neighbour, love of friend, love of enemy and he commanded his followers to love one another as he had loved them. Because of his witness to love was threatening, those exercising power sought to silence Jesus. He suffered abandonment and betrayal, state-sanctioned torture and execution. He was crucified. But death was not the last word. God raised Jesus from death, turning sorrow into joy, despair into hope. We sing of Jesus raised from the dead. We sing hallelujah.
By becoming flesh in Jesus, God makes all things new, In Jesus’ life, teaching and self-offering, God empowers us to live in love. In Jesus’ crucifixion, God bears the sin, grief, and suffering of the world.In Jesus’ resurrection, God overcomes death. Nothing separates us from the love of God.
The Risen Christ lives today, present to us and the source of our hope. In response to who Jesus was and to all he did and taught, to his life, death and resurrection, and to his continuing presence with us through the Spirit, We celebrate him as Word made flesh, the one in whom God and humanity are perfectly joined, the transformation of our lives, The Christ.
There are six important things to know about the life of Jesus, as expressed in A Song of Faith:
- In the United Church we always acknowledge that Jesus was a Jew and that he lived out his human life as a Jew. He was not a Christian. Christians are the people who followed after him and formed the sect called Christianity.
- Jesus lived love. It was the foundation of his earthly ministry. He preached and practised unconditional love and expected his followers to do the same.
- God was uniquely present in the life of Jesus. While all of us hold within us the spark and energy of God, Jesus lived his godliness right to the “edges of his skin.” In him, people knew they were in the presence of God.
- Jesus was peasant born and lived his adult life challenging the hypocrisy of the religious groups within Judaism and the power structure at this time. He preached compassion, justice and forgiveness. The people around him were threatened by him because he challenged the status quo. He paid for this with his life.
- In his death and subsequent resurrection, we believe that God, through Jesus, has demonstrated to us that death has been conquered. Not even physical death can separate us from the love of God. And we will know new life beyond our death.
- Jesus died for us in the sense that he knew the burdens we bear as humans and removed them from us so that we could be completely free to live a God centred life, as he did.