November 2000

In this issue

Ewell Cistercians

Aelred on Transfiguration

Tim on The Production of Food

The Expanding Web Presence

Transfiguration

AUGUST is always a special month for us. In the first place we are rejoicing that by the time the month is out we shall have completed our tomato harvest and, together with a small band of helpers, will have cleared the glasshouse ready for next season’s crop! In the second place we set out on that joyful path celebrating with thanksgiving the extraordinary event of the transfiguration of Jesus. Whenever we read it in its context in the gospels or celebrate it in worship we are always greatly challenged. What does it mean?
There are two main complementary sets of answers. The most usual one is to take the details of this event - the mountain top setting with Moses and Elijah appearing to Jesus who is clothed in light; the three disciples very afraid; the cloud and the voice of God - and understand how the whole event witnesses to the glory of God and the divineness of Jesus. We might say this is the ‘church’ perspective.
The second way is less usual. It is to make the attempt to see this watershed in Jesus’ life as the point at which he must make the decision to let the vision of the kingdom of God be worked out and completed in Jerusalem and to be aware that this will lead to his death. So Jesus makes this decision and in the tension of that moment of prayer and obedience to the Father he is clothed with the love of God to which his whole ministry bore witness. This is the perspective of ‘life’.
If then we ask, ‘What was the kingdom of God for Jesus?’ we have the answer that it is his ministry. He lived a life of reconciliation, compassion and healing among the people of his time. Beginning within Judaism, after his death & resurrection the kingdom became a way of life in Jesus as Lord.
Now, as Jesus’ disciples and apostles, we are challenged to have a vision of life which is informed by ‘kingdom thinking’. And that vision requires us continually to make the decision to go forward. Unlike the three disciples who felt mistakenly that it would be best to settle down on the mountain top we are required to continue in kingdom practice, so to speak.
The kingdom of God as inaugurated by Jesus is not tied to any particular lobby, political, social or whatever, but embraces the whole of life. As such it has made giant strides during the past two millennia. We do not recognize it because we are always looking at ‘church’. So we who are Jesus’ disciples always have an ambivalent position in regard to kingdom and church. We ‘go to church’ to affirm our relationship as disciples of the Lord in worship and then return to daily life. In the tension between these two - ‘church’ and ‘life’ - we shall be, from time to time, transformed and even transfigured as we make the decisions, informed by ‘kingdom thinking’, that need to be made in the ‘church’ side of our life. Worship as the real relationship of persons in Christ? Parish policy? The lack of monks? These and other critical questions can be thought through with a vision of kingdom at heart even though the results may mean a sort of death for us as we enter further into the kingdom of the Father.
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