Tuesday, March 9, 2010

New creatures and ambassadors 2nd Corinthians 5:16-21

4th Sunday of Lent Year C
Paul calls believers new creatures and ambassadors in his 2nd Letter to the church in Corinth. He viewed the world as both old and new all at once. For him Christ's dying and rising means new life is breaking in through faith into the old world. Some debate if Paul had a conversion to a new faith or a new call to serve the same God in a new way. What's clear in this reading, and in Paul's letters as a whole, is that he announced that life in Christ means we must die in order for God to make all things new.
So how does it happen, this death and rising new life. God's work began before our birth and continues in creation today. By sending Jesus God reached into human lives working in us through the Holy Spirit. Today God's at work in the external Word, what Luther called alien because it's not naturally part of us. The Word of God isn’t in me just by birth or by nature. The Word that saves me is a gift given to me from God carried in the spoken and written words of other human beings who shared the Word they had been given.
The Word is what makes us new it's the Word is what kills us by convicting us of sin and then raises us up anew in Christ. The work of the church, the fruit of the new Creation, is to carry the Word as ambassadors for god. Isaiah 53:7-8 isn’t just beautiful poetry. It’s the honest truth,

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the messenger who announces peace, who brings good news, who announces salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”
Listen! Your sentinels lift up their voices, together they sing for joy;
for in plain sight they see the return of the Lord to Zion.

The church has recieved Christ’s commission to Go and teach as he commanded. We would do well to ponder the question Isaiah asked Israel, “Who has believed what we have heard? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” (Isaiah 53:1 NRSV)
Isaiah's question prompts me to look at my neighbors today. Isaiah invites me to imagine the Word making a difference. He challenges me, who has heard the Word, to reach out with the word into the world.
Some interesting thinkers who have made contributions to this discussion in the last 100 years or so are Gerhard Forde THEOLOGY IS FOR PROCLAMATION, Gustaf Wingren’s THE LIVING WORD, and Regin Prenter SPRITUS CREATOR.

No comments: