BORN INTO AND WITH AND FOR THE WORLD
As we approach the end of Advent and the beginning of Christmas,
here is the final section of the Belhar Confession that points us
in the direction of the Newborn King and his ministry in the world:
- that God has revealed himself as the one who wishes to bring about justice and true peace among people;
- that God, in a world full of injustice and enmity, is in a special way the God of the destitute, the poor and the wronged
- that God calls the church to follow him in this; for God brings justice to the oppressed and gives bread to the hungry;
- that God frees the prisoner and restores sight to the blind;
- that God supports the downtrodden, protects the stranger, helps orphans and widows and blocks the path of the ungodly;
- that for God pure and undefiled religion is to visit the orphans and the widows in their suffering;
- that God wishes to teach the church to do what is good and to seek the right;
- that the church must therefore stand by people in any form of suffering and need, which implies, among other things, that the church must witness against and strive against any form of injustice, so that justice may roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream;
- that the church as the possession of God must stand where the Lord stands, namely against injustice and with the wronged; that in following Christ the church must witness against all the powerful and privileged who selfishly seek their own interests and thus control and harm others.
That modern affirmation of faith reminds us that faith is not in something “up there” or “out there,”
but indeed right here…in our world…in our lives…in our ministry…in our midst…in our mingling.
It’s a tightrope walk between theory and practice, words and deeds.
But, maybe that’s what the writers attempted in the early centuries of the church
when the Apostles’ Creed affirmed that Jesus was “born of the virgin Mary.”
That phrase has been a seesaw of argument and contention throughout the life of the Church.
In our time the accent is often on “born of the VIRGIN MARY”
as an attempt to proclaim, emphasize, and defend the divinity of Jesus
against all attempts to make him “just a man.”
But, when the Creed was written, the emphasis was “BORN of the Virgin Mary”
in order to remind the faithful that Jesus was actually a human being in the midst of real life,
“flesh of flesh and bone of bones”…Immanuel…God with us, one of us, for us.
Part of the joy and wonder and awe of the Babe in the manger is the seesaw reality of Jesus…
somehow divine….somehow human…all at the same time.
Part of the joy and wonder and awe of being the Body of Christ, the Church,
is the seesaw juggling of ministry that presents itself as human to a human world
with the spark of divine that makes every secular moment, act, or word, sacred.
As we welcome Him again into our world, let us rejoice in the paths He calls us to follow.
so that His justice, mercy, hope, peace, and love may flow like living water in our world.