The Parish of Sandal Magna

Christ is for everyone


As we approach Christmas we can rejoice in the fact that Christ is for everyone, not just for Christians. He is free to be claimed by anyone, and we are free to enjoy his blessing, wherever we are in our faith and life. So we wish everyone a blessed Advent and a Happy Christmas, and we welcome everyone to join in our Advent events and Christmas worship in all its creative variety.

Two recent readings have emphasised that Christ is for everyone. 
The first was from a book called Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals. The person mentioned for October 29th is Clarence Jordan, (1912-1969), who was troubled by the way in which the American South embraced both Jesus and racism. After studying for a doctorate he and his family returned to Georgia in1942 to start Koinonia Farm, an interracial community. Greeted by Ku Klux Klan members who told him: "We don’t let the sun set on people like you around here,’ Jordan smiled and replied: “Pleased to meet y'all. I’ve been waiting all my life to meet someone who could make the sun stand still."

Clarence Jordan wrote these telling words: "Jesus has been so zealously worshipped, his deity so vehemently affirmed, his halo so brightly illumined, and his cross so beautifully polished that in the minds of many he no longer exists as a man. By thus glorifying him we more effectively rid ourselves of him than did those who tried so crudely to do so by crudely crucifying him."

We need to be mindful that if we polish the image of Jesus, we might be excluding most people who don't feel worthy to approach him, unlike the rugged picture of Jesus mobbed by thousands of the poor, the disenfranchised, the downtrodden and the marginalised of his day.
The second reading is from a Franciscan called Richard Rohr, who writes about the 'Universal Christ', who is revealed at the beginning of John’s Gospel, "In the beginning was the Word.." which echoes the great Creation story of Genesis. Paul in his letter to the Colossians also writes: "The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible…" Paul then goes on to talk about the church: "He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church;" Rohr writes: "This Christ mystery is bigger than any organised religion." We need to be reminded of the universal scope of Christ's ministry which complements and transcends the ministry of Jesus here on earth.

So Christ is for all people at all times in all places. When we celebrate Christmas, we remember the coming of this divine person among us as a vulnerable human being, subject to all the joy and pain of being human. He made himself accessible to people in an unprecedented way, shedding his divinity in order to live like us, among us and by his identification with us to bring us close to God. The coming of the Holy Spirit in time led to the creation of the Church which is part of God’s bigger Creation, and sign to the world of the presence of Christ in the world.
Our prayer is that our Churches are places of welcome and hospitality where God is worshipped in the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that many will want to belong and be a part of the wonderful life and work of Jesus Christ.

Rupert




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