• Going Deeper: Growing in Faith and Knowledge

Jesus Is…Therefore We Are…

The Rev. Dr. William Rich
September 19, 2019

We all have our heroes.  They are mirrors for us.  Looking at them, we see some part of who we are, or at least who we would like to be.

 

During my doctoral studies, I savored a class in Christology taught by the brilliant liberation theologian James Cone.  He helped me to realize that each of the many ways Jesus has been seen down through the ages has been a reflection of the specific life situation and perspective of particular followers of Christ.

 

Two examples illustrate this.  Before Christmas 1223, Christians had never seen a Christmas creche, or imaged Jesus born as a poor baby, laid in the scratchy straw of an animal slop trough, between an ox and ass.  But that Christmas, St. Francis built the first creche, and opened Christian minds and hearts to modeling themselves on a poor and vulnerable Savior, instead of a distant and mighty king.  The Jesus of that first Christmas creche looked a lot like Francis (Il Poverello) and his followers: a poor and relatively powerless peasant, whose only power was lowly love.   

 

In the year 1820, Thomas Jefferson, perhaps America’s most singular advocate for the Enlightenment’s adulation of pure reason, promulgated his own picture of Jesus in The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth.  He cut and pasted excerpts from the Gospels, omitting virtually every miracle and intimation of the supernatural.  For Jefferson, Jesus embodied the ideal enlightened human being, someone who, not by chance, looked quite a bit like Jefferson’s picture of himself.

 

Each of us has our own distinct way of imaging Jesus.  For some, Jesus is the great healer.  For others, he is a prophet of revolutionary social change.  For yet others, a religious reformer and mystic.  How we each image Jesus has a formative impact not only on how our soul evolves, but also on what we think the Church as a community ought to be like, and what its mission should be.

 

Beginning this Sunday, our Rector, Morgan Allen, will be leading a series of Forums to help us examine how we perceive what Trinity is like as a community of faith and mission, and how we think others in the wider Boston community see us.  These Forums will help us establish a shared vocabulary for understanding the variety of ways a parish like ours can understand itself and its mission.  All this will help Trinity Church to form a clear picture of who we already are, so that together we can better form a vision of who the Christ is calling us to be as co-inaugurators of God’s kingdom in this hungry and hurting world.

 

Come and be part of this exciting visioning process!   See you on Sunday.

 

Blessings and Christ’s peace,

Bill

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