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Showing posts from January, 2018

Crossing the Jordan River

Joshua 3.9-17, Mark 1.4-20

The River Jordan occupies a pivotal role in Israel’s landscape and history. Geographically, it marks the original boundary between the Promised Land and the outside world. Although Joshua instructed two of the twelve tribes to settle on the West Bank, to this day, citizens of Israel living on the West Bank are regarded as living outside their official homeland.
Historically, the crossing of the River Jordan by the wandering tribes of Israel marked a new chapter too. A nation state was gradually carved out of the land of Palestine, with all the bloodletting and displacement of the original inhabitants which that so often involves. In modern times, the state of Israel has reclaimed the same territory, with similar consequences for the Palestinian Arabs who’d made it their home.
Even for those of us who’ve never seen the Jordan, it retains its ancient status as a boundary between the Promised Land and the rest of existence. For Christians it’s become a metaphorica…

Encountering God Hands On, Face to Face

John 1.1-16, Colossians 1.11-29

There are parts of the New Testament where we could easily get the impression that Jesus had always been part of God until he became human, when he somehow left behind all the glories of heaven and condescended to share a less complete, less satisfying existence as a human being. So, for example, there’s the famous hymn which St Paul quotes in his letter to the Philippian Christians: ‘Though he was in the form of God, Christ Jesus did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave.’

There’s a name for this understanding of what God was doing for us in Jesus. It’s called Kenotic Christology, from the Greek word for ‘emptying’, ‘kenosis’. God emptied himself out, abandoning much of what it normally means to be God, in order to share our human experience. But there’s a problem with this, for it assumes that God had never really been with his creation before he became human and isn’t really with us n…