REFLECTION by Tom
I am old enough to remember
Elizabeth II becoming queen. A number of people in our
village bought television sets in order to see the
coronation. I went across the road to our neighbours to
watch. There were fifteen people in the room standing and
sitting peering at a 12 inch screen set in a large
mahogany box. Reception was bad, nevertheless through the
snowstorm pictures one could vaguely make out Queen
Elizabeth wearing her crown surrounded by important
people. What I particularly recall, apart from my own
desire to go home, was the excitement of the people in
that ‘front room’. The coronation event over 120 miles
away, had entered the room. Some of those gathered even
cheered. We were there, or more accurately, there was
Of course it was only an image,
not the real thing but we experienced it as real. The New
Testament tells us that Jesus Christ was ‘the image of the
invisible God’. But he is more than a flat fuzzy image; he
is a three dimensional figure of real flesh and blood. He
who is beyond is with us. He brings the beyond into our
room. But again the analogy breaks down. Jesus Christ was
not with us in his crown of splendour; he is with us in
the vulnerability of a child lying on a bed of straw. God
in Christ comes to show us that through weakness and
sacrifice a new world of love and peace can be shaped and
God call us as his partners to
down-size and leave the comfort zone. We are to reflect
and make the very presence of this incarnational God real
though what we say and do. No one can explain or
understand the mystery of the incarnation. We, like the
wise men of old, can only offer our gifts and bow in
worship and wonder.
Stand amazed, ye heavens at this;
See the Lord of earth and skies;
Humbled to the dust He is
And in a manager lies.
REFLECTION by Tom
ECUMENISM AND THE FUTURE CHURCH
Start with the Church and mission
will probably be lost. Start with the mission of God and
it is likely that the Church will be found.
Ecumenism in response to the
Trinity has to be covenantal to allow continuing dialogue
between partners even when their relationship is strained
to breaking point.
The Church will assume diverse
forms representing some aspect of the multiplicity of
languages, peoples and cultures. Unity will not be the
product of ecclesiastical joinery but of the Spirit who
baptizes with fire and generates diversity.
he ecumenical agenda will include
items about partnership links between Churches through
prayer, shared learning, mutual exchange of clergy but
above all it will focus on justice issues.
If ecumenism does not seriously
address the gap between rich and poor it will cease to
serve the kingdom of God.
Justice for the planet and its
peoples will also provide the locus for partnerships with
those of other faiths and of no faith who must be included
in the ecumenical encounter.
God is not creating a new set of
ecclesiastical institutions but rather a ‘fluid’
inclusive, organic, emerging Church reflecting the dancing
life of the Trinity, in whom unity and diversity make
music together until all creation cries ‘Glory’.