Pastor’s Word

Central States Synod has adopted a new Mission Statement, and Bishop Candea has provided devotions to introduce the statement and invite us all to reflect on who we are as Christians.
 
Central States Synod Mission Statement
United with Christ in Baptism — Traveling the way of Jesus — Joining God’s reign of justice and radical love in the world.
 
United with Christ in Baptism—A Reflection by Bishop Susan Candea
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not over come it. John 1:1-5
 
We often, without realizing that we are doing it, think of “Christ” as Jesus’ last name even though we know that the word, “Christ” in Greek, and the word, “Messiah” in Hebrew mean, “the anointed one.” Jesus of Nazareth, a Galilean Jewish peasant, who lived under the foreign rule of the Roman Empire from about 4 BCE (before the common era) to about 30 CE. Jesus is God’s “anointed one.” but anointed to do what?
 
Richard Rohr begins his book The Universal Christ by sharing a passage from Caryll Houselander’s autobiography in which she describes her vision of seeing Christ in all the people around her. –
 
I was in an underground train, a crowded train in which all sorts of people jostled together, sitting and strap-hanging – workers of every description going home at the end of the day. Quite suddenly I saw with my mind, but as vividly as a wonderful picture, Christ in them all But I saw more than that; not only was Christ in every one of them, living in them, dying in them, rejoicing in them, sorrowing in them – but because he was in them and because they were here, the whole world was here too, here in this underground train, not only the world as it was at that moment, not only all the people in all the countries of the world, but all those people who had lived in the past, and all those yet to come . . . Realization of our oneness in Christ is the only cure for human loneliness. For me, too, it is the only ultimate of life, the only thing that gives meaning and purpose to life. (The Universal Christ, pp 2-3)
 
Rohr argues that this is the vision of Christ revealed in Scripture which leads him to ask:
What if Christ is a name for the transcendent within of every “thing” in the universe?
What if Christ is a name for the immense spaciousness of all true Love?
What if Christ refers to an infinite horizon that pulls us from within and pulls us forward too?
What if Christ is another name for everything – in its fullness?
 
And I would add:
what if Christ (the anointed one) was anointed to reveal the expanse and universality of God’s love and grace, of God’s light and redemption of all of creation?
What if God sent Jesus not to teach us the right things to believe and do so that after we die, we would be rewarded by going to heaven (which is often how the Christian faith is understood), but to become one with us, to dwell with us, connecting us to a love that encompasses the universe – the love of God? What might it mean to be united with Christ who is universal?
 
Questions for Reflection
• How would you describe Jesus?
• How would you describe Christ?
• What excites, energizes, or gives you hope when you think about the “universal Christ”?
• What makes you nervous or challenges you with that image?
• How does being united with Christ affect your perspective on the world, on others, on yourself, as well as your actions and behaviors?