JULIAN MEETING September 4th 2017
If I am to see God and the world, myself and my neighbour, as Jesus Christ saw them I need to be open to his spirit. This is not as strange as it may seem. We are embodied spirits and we relate to each other both at a physical and a spiritual level; we influence deeply those we love and are as deeply influenced by those who love us. Those who were inspired by Jesus were so persuaded by his vision of what life might be, by what they had seen of his ‘style’ of living and dying, by what he had enabled them to see of God and by what he had shown them of the meaning of true personhood, that they wanted to live in his spirit. That had been God’s desire from the beginning of time and the whole Bible leads to this point where through Christ eyes are finally opened.
We all can now encounter ‘the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ’. And if you were to ask St John, ‘Where chiefly did you see that glory?’ I think he would either have replied, ‘When he was hanging on the cross’ or, more likely, ‘When he left the supper table, wrapped a towel about his waist, and began to wash our dusty feet’. For that stands the notion of glory – and the concept of God – on its head. It is to enter a foolish, topsy-turvy world, where the first are last and the last first, where value lies in being, not in achieving, where the just law of ‘an eye for an eye’ is countermanded by the radical action of forgiveness, and where greatness lies in the compassionate, often humdrum, service of others.
Yet what they saw in the end, what the professional persecutor-turned missionary Paul saw after he had so dramatically regained his sight, what John saw once his eyes had been opened, was that they had to see beyond the figure of Jesus to God himself. ‘You want to see the glory and the love of God – in so far as human eyes can do so?’ asks John. “Then look on this man whom we have seen with our own eyes.’ But Christ’s followers only saw this truth in retrospect. It is one thing to have known Jesus, watched him, lived through the devastating final days of losing him, followed by the wonder of daring to say once again ‘we have seen the Lord’, it is one thing for them to see all that and to understand that the world would never be the same again; it is quite another for us to do so. We would do well to frequently recall the words of our Lord: “Blessed are they that have not seen, yet have believed.’ May we be true believers.
This Spirit of enlightenment helps each of us to understand the true purpose of our existence and dependence on God by opening our eyes to the creation and its creatures, its beauty and its pain; inspiring writers and artists; enabling us to look at ourselves and each other with compassion and give proper attention to the mystery each one of us is. The Spirit opens my eyes to the indwelling Christ who is encountered within our communities whenever we create love, show compassion, work for justice, or help reconcile those who are divided; grant forgiveness or ask for it; or stand for truth. The Church, in so far as it is the Body of Christ, the place where the Word is read and the bread broken, should be the place where these things happen, where the spirit of Christ is self-evident.
The next Julian Meeting is on 2nd October 2017 at 7.30pm in the Rectory.