THE GOOD NEWS OF ADVENT FROM THE CHURCH IN SOUTH AFRICA
The PCUSA recently added the Belhar Confession to our denomination’s Book of Confessions.
This is a document that came from the Church in South Africa after a long-time reality of apartheid.
During Advent, let us consider some of the “we believe” sections as present understandings
of the hope, peace, love, and joy envisioned in our seasonal worship:
- that Christ’s work of reconciliation is made manifest in the church as the community of believers who have been reconciled with God and with one another;
- that unity is, therefore, both a gift and an obligation for the church of Jesus Christ; that through the working of God’s Spirit it is a binding force, yet simultaneously a reality which must be earnestly pursued and sought: one which the people of God must continually be built up to attain;
- that this unity must become visible so that the world may believe that separation, enmity, and hatred between people and groups is sin which Christ has already conquered, and accordingly that anything which threatens this unity may have no place in the church and must be resisted;
- that this unity of the people of God must be manifested and be active in a variety of ways: in that we love one another; that we experience, practice and pursue community with one another; that we are obligated to give ourselves willingly and joyfully to be of benefit and blessing to one another; that we share one faith, have one calling, are of one soul and one mind; have one God and Father, are filled with one Spirit, are baptized with one baptism, eat of one bread and drink of one cup, confess one name, are obedient to one Lord, work for one cause, and share one hope; together come to know the height and the breadth and the depth of the love of Christ; together are built up to the stature of Christ, to the new humanity; together know and bear one another’s burdens, thereby fulfilling the law of Christ that we need one another and upbuild one another, admonishing and comforting one another; that we suffer with one another for the sake of righteousness; pray together; together serve God in this world; and together fight against all which may threaten or hinder this unity;”
Are those not the items on the agenda for the kingdom of God that Isaiah envisions for his people
torn apart in the midst of loss and confusion and war and greed?
Are they not the realities that came into the world with the birth of the Christ, Immanuel, God with us?
Are they not the spiritual gifts that the Holy Spirit poured out upon the Church
to employ faithfully and energetically in the life of the world?
Through our experience and practice of faith and good news and ministry in Trinity’s life,
may we demonstrate before the world a manner of living and working and loving
where the lion and lamb can truly enjoy life together at the Table and Stable of our Lord and
swords and plowshare may be repurposed for bringing together and building up God’s world.