I give thanks to God always because ... you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 4-7). Who is Paul speaking about in this lesson for the First Sunday of Advent. He is speaking of the Christians gathered in Corinth, certainly, but he is also speaking about us and to us. We are not lacking and yet we wait. We live in the now and in the not yet. We know and experience what we have now in Christ and look to what shall be revealed. Who we are now, and who we shall be, what it means to be a human being and one who confesses and is in Christ (so-called “Christian anthropology”), is foundational to how we experience and respond to God, the God is whose image and likeness we are each created (Gen. 1.26).
But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing a wedding robe, and he said to him, “Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe?” And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, “Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” For many are called, but few are chosen. (Mtt. 22.11-14)
The Word of God. We often use this phrase and concept, but what do we understand this to mean/be? The Bible tells us that the word involves God speaking to us in Scripture. In His commandments God speaks to us, and this word is “very near” to us that we may “do it” (Deut. 30.13). God’s word is active and “shall accomplish that which [God] purpose[s]” (Isa. 55.11). But, crucially, it is also revealed “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. ... [A]ll things were made through him ...” (Jn. 1.1-3). So, when we refer to God’s word of what do we understand ourselves to be speaking?
“A fish without a bicycle” is a phrase used to illustrate the idea of something completely unnecessary. A fish doesn’t need a bicycle; has no use for and cannot, indeed, use one. That is how many people in the world view Church and “organized religion”. They “don’t need” the Church and cannot conceive why anybody does. A minority of such folks articulate an indifference to, or a disdain for, the Church on the basis of a philosophy which labels faith as irrational and unscientific. In doing so they ignore the self-contradictions of their own philosophy, and the fact that applying the scientific method to questions of faith (which do not involve a testable hypothesis) demonstrates a confusion of categories of thought. In other words, “Strong Rationalists” ignore the fact that their belief in reason as the sole criterion for thought and experience is it- self a form of faith.
What can I know about God and His will for me, His will for us? This question is the fundamental of “faith seeking under- standing,” of how we struggle to discern what we are supposed to do because of our faith. The answer to this question is itself predicated on how we believe we can gain knowledge of God.
Echoing 1 John 4.16 a popular twentieth century hymn (no. 379 in The Hymnal 1982) opens with the words, “God is Love, let heaven adore Him.” God is love, certainly, but how do we know this? Do we know this only because it is revealed in Scripture? Can we learn about God’s nature through our own observation and speculation, or only insofar as He chooses to reveal Himself to us?
Come, Holy Ghost, our souls inspire,... So do we pray (for example in hymns 503 or 504 at confirmations and ordinations) in invoking the Holy Spirit. Last month in this newsletter I wrote about midwifery, about how we attend to new birth. Building upon this, this month let us examine more closely what this new birth looks like and how it is affected.
We enjoy new life in Jesus Christ by and through the Holy Spirit. And this month we have additional opportunities to focus upon the reality of this great gift, for this month we celebrate Pentecost— the bestowal of the Holy Spirit upon the Church—and Trinity Sunday, commemorating the reality of the Holy Spirit as that bond of Love in which the Father is in the Son and the Son is in the Father (and each is in and is indwelled by the Holy Spirit).
Midwifery. The word derives from the Middle English midwyf, referring to being “with the woman”; i.e., the reference is to the person present to assist a woman giving birth. In our own day a midwife is a specialized obstetrical nurse, but in most societies throughout history the fundamental training for a midwife has involved her own experience of giving birth. Only having become a mother, herself, does she proceed in gaining the knowledge in facilitating the deliveries of others. It is in this sense that the Church—as the Bride of Christ—is present in the birth of new life in the world, as the one who has experienced delivery of herself and as the one who is present to facilitate the birth which is given by the Holy Spirit.
Get The Rector's Weekly Address and Information on Upcoming Events!