These past weeks, I have been very involved in reading N.T. Wright’s newest offering: The New Testament in its World. I say ‘weeks,’ because this tome is significant in size and significant in content and it takes a while to get from cover to cover!
Bishop Wright writes that the meaning of Easter — the meaning of the Resurrection — is at the heart of the New Testament; and that believing in the Resurrection is not just believing in a set of statements of faith that we make in our historic creeds. It means something far more than that; something much more personal and involved. It means “trusting in God — this God — who raises the dead, who calls for a commitment to discipleship to the worldwide mission that the Resurrection has launched.”
Now that’s a statement that has caused me to pause and think deeply over these past weeks. Not about the trust part — that I’m committed to, wholeheartedly. Not even about the raising of Jesus from the dead part — I believe the Creator can manage that just fine and then some. No, the bit that makes me pause is this: the worldwide mission of God was launched by the Resurrection! So, what God was doing through Jesus was recreating and remaking this world starting with Jesus — and the thing that launched this mission was the deepest and most committed love there is.
I know it seems like it’s all pretty heady stuff but actually, it’s not really — because it starts with God’s love for us. If in Jesus, God is bringing together heaven and earth and out of that making a new creation, we have literally been loved into action and we have work to do. Our job as Christians — the ones who recognize what God has done through the Resurrection, is to get busy building this new earth — the kingdom of God.
What does that new mandate look like?
Well, it looks like justice for the widow and the orphan, the migrant worker and the refugee. It looks like guaranteed basic income, food security, clean drinking water and adequate healthcare, so that all people have enough to flourish. It looks like bold action to safeguard the Earth and renewal of our commitment to care for all of God’s creation. It looks like all people fully acknowledged as beloved children of God: victims of human trafficking, LGBTQ2S+ people, and Indigenous peoples … all living a life free from oppression, discrimination, and marginalization, in harmony as the whole people of God.
It means, in the words of our new diocesan vision statement, we are called to life and compelled to love … again and again and again.
It looks, in fact, like the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
And you know, I find this inspiring — it literally gives me breath and helps me to find ever more expanded and deepened meaning in the Resurrection of our Lord.
May this Eastertide renew your faith and deepen your love for God and for our neighbour.
Christ is Risen! Alleluia!
The Right Reverend
Susan Bell, 2020