Friday, September 28, 2018

Bishop’s Note: September 27, 2018 – The “Jerusalem Declaration” on Awaiting Christ

Bishop Eric Menees

We continue our exploration of the Jerusalem Declaration (the full text of which can be found here:

This week we look at point fourteen – Awaiting Christ:

We rejoice at the prospect of Jesus’ coming again in glory, and while we await this final event of history, we praise him for the way he builds up his church through his Spirit by miraculously changing lives.

One of the things I love about the church are the seasons:
In Advent, we emphasize our Lord’s first coming, even as we await his second coming.
In Christmas, we emphasize our Lord’s incarnation: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)
In Epiphany, we emphasize the ways our Lord was made manifest.
In Lent, we emphasize the suffering of our Lord for our sake.
In Easter, we emphasize the resurrection of our Lord.
In Pentecost, we emphasize the coming of the Holy Spirit and what it means to be the Church – the Body of Christ! This Sunday is the 19th Sunday after Pentecost.

The season that we are in now is also referred to as “ordinary” time. That term, “ordinary,” is interesting. In this season, we concentrate on what it means to live in the “in-between time” between our Lord’s Resurrection and his Second Coming. In this season, we learn what it means to be an adopted, redeemed, and renewed child of God. In this season, we learn how to live in the power of the Holy Spirit. In this season, we exercise our ministries as members of the priesthood of all believers.

We affirm in the fourteenth point of the Jerusalem Declaration that to be the Church means that we are active in the world, while seeking not to be part of the world. As Jesus tells us in his High Priestly Prayer from John chapter 17:
“I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.  I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.  They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.  Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.  As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.” (John 17:14-19)

My son is fond of a clothing brand called, “Not of this World.” Several scriptures point to this concept, in addition to John 17 above. But perhaps a better understanding than “In the World, but not Of the World” would be “Not of the world, but sent into the world.”

St. Paul tells us: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”  (Romans 12:2)

The wonderful mystery of being a Christian is that, for us, it is indeed ordinary to be the Church, living in the power of the Spirit. As such, we share the Good News of Jesus Christ with anyone and everyone who does not have a saving relationship with Jesus. We expect and see the “signs and wonders” of God’s miraculous powers to heal, transform, and renew broken individuals in a broken world. And we love in a way that demonstrates that we are Christians! All of this, while we expectantly await our Lord’s Second Coming!

I pray you all a blessed week!

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