Sunday, April 15, 2018

Image as Gift, Likeness as Vocation: Reflections on 1 John 3.1-7 (RCL Easter 3B 15 April 2018)

Dear Friends,

Forgive the brevity of my notes below.  Two days of rest and recreation meant time to ponder but not to write.  It's best to listen to the Sermon to hear how the pondering turned out.


Image as Gift, Likeness as Vocation
Reflections on 1 John 3.1-7

RCL Easter 3B
15 April 2018

Saint Faith’s Anglican Church
Vancouver BC

(1) Within the last year our youngest son, Owen Thomas, posted a photograph of himself, smoking a cigar, on his Facebook page.  What struck me about his profile was the resemblance to my father and my grandfather.  Owen was the image of his paternal grandsires.  There was also something about how he held his head that also betrayed his likeness to his grandfather and great-grandfather, a revelation of the character of the young man that reached back over the generations.  Image is a product of genetics, our DNA.  Likeness is a product of nurture, of family culture.

(2) It is this precise relationship between image and likeness that the author of 1 John is writing about.  We are made in the image of God; this is our fundamental genetic gift from the Creator of the kosmos.  This image of God that is planted in the soul and being of every man, woman and child is the power to create life-giving relationships, both physical and spiritual.  But our life-long task, our vocation, is to become like God.  God creates life with room for each creature to become more fully who God intends it to be.  ‘Beloved, we are God’s children (made in God’s image) now; what we shall be (living in God’s likeness), is yet to be revealed.’

(3) So, how do we become more like God in creating life-giving?  God’s first effort was to create a covenant people and to give them the ‘Teaching’, the Torah.  The plan was that they would become a sign to all peoples.  God’s next effort was the one that brought us into being.  The ‘Teaching’, the Torah, originally written on tablets of stone, was now written in the life and teaching of a unique human being, Jesus of Nazareth, who came among us, made disciples and, in his death and resurrection, inspired and empowered a movement that continues to this very day.  In Jesus of Nazareth, as truly human as each one of us, we see how we become like God, become co-creators with God, co-workers with God, in creating life-giving, death-denying relationships.

(4) To be a disciple of Jesus means a commitment to becoming more God-like in every aspect of our lives.  Becoming more God-like begins by belonging to the community of Jesus’ disciples.  Within that community we learn how to behave as one of his disciples.  Belonging and behaving lead us to believing — not believing as an intellectual exercise but believing as an affair of the heart, an act of love, believing as donning the habit of God.

(5) For the disciple of Jesus who has come to belong to a community within the Anglican tradition, behaving, the practices and traditions that lead us towards believing, are pretty straightforward.  Let's go back to Owen for a moment.  His face is the product of his Porter-Leggett genetics, the tilt of his jaw the product of Porter-Leggett nurture.  Likewise in the Christian community, our 'image' is the product of God's gift, our 'likeness' the product of Christian community as expressed in teaching, fellowship, worship and prayer.

(6) This is who we are.  This is who we are to become.

No comments: