Jesus of Nazareth, referred to by the faith community, in the light of that experience called “resurrection, as the Christ, has a hold on me. His subversion, and some would say fulfilment, of the religious culture in which he was raised continues to excite me through all the fluctuating phases of my faith journey.
The fact that he was fully human implies to me that he shared our weaknesses in order to walk fully alongside us. He was no respecter of social status, and was frequently to be found alongside the poor, the oppressed and outcast of society. I’ve always loved that primitive Christian hymn in Philippians 2:6-11 – He “did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant …”
What a contrast to some world leaders who, claiming to be his followers, act as if they have exclusive access to God’s will and, in so many actions (that they order their subjects to perform) bring shame to the name of Jesus the Christ. Unfortunately, right from the birth of Christendom in the 4th century CE, there have been attempts to transform the “good news to the poor” into a message which is used to further subjugate the poor and oppressed.
Excuse the rambling but, I’ve just been enjoying the nation’s top ten hymns on tonight’s “Songs of Praise” some of which rate amongst my favourite’s, Wesley’s ‘Love Divine’ and, in the top 20 (last week’s edition of the programme)another of Wesley’s ‘And Can It Be’. All of Charles Wesley’s hymns have a theological profundity which is hard to match, embracing the life, death and resurrection. [Must admit, although I may be stirred, how much of it I accept is a variable feast!]
Personally, I feel equally at home with Ewan MacColl’s ‘Ballad Of The Carpenter’ as with a Wesley hymn, I love the recognition of the political dynamic in Jesus’ life and ministry but, I am still moved by the symbols of a more traditional Christianity … I know that Jesus lives! But, were he simply an avatar of YHWH what would be so remarkable about that, a symbol of a definition rather than a beacon in the fight against oppression and injustice. The man Jesus died early in the Common Era, many profess to witnessing his physically resuscitated form but, most importantly, his Word and Spirit inspire action to counter oppression and injustice wherever it occurs.
It is time to reclaim Jesus and to be empowered through the symbols of the faith.