The Cathedral Connection 2 June 2019

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Today’s first reading is St Luke’s account of the Ascension, in the first chapter of the Acts of the Apostles.  One thing that struck me, re-reading it, was that even then, even after the Resurrection, the apostles still didn’t get it. They still expected Jesus to ‘restore the kingdom to Israel’, that is, to throw the Romans out and re-establish Israel’s independence.

Jesus’s reply was to promise that the Holy Spirit would make the apostles his witnesses to the ends of the earth. You can’t get much further from Jerusalem in the 30s of the first century than these islands of Aotearoa in 2010s, but since the days of St Paul, the Church has been described as the Body of Christ.

In exploring what this means, Rowan Williams, theologian and former Archbishop of Canterbury, reminds us that God, in Jesus, became a servant. Jesus often referred to himself as a servant, and so, as the Body of Christ, the Church too must be a servant of humanity.

Rowan Williams also points out that the Church is ‘most truly itself’ when it meets for the Eucharist.  The Eucharist sustains and renews the Church, the people of God, but it also challenges the Church. In one of the Eucharistic Prayers we sometimes use, we pray that God will:

‘Open our eyes to the needs of our brothers and sisters; inspire in us words and actions to comfort those who labour and are burdened. Make us serve them truly, after the example of Christ and at his command. And may your Church stand as a living witness to truth and freedom, to peace and justice, that all people may be raised up to a new hope’.

– Jim McAloon, Chair, Parish Pastoral Council.

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