Charles E. Raven - "Sequel to the Resurrection II" (May 12, 1963)
|In the name of the eternal God,
|father, son, and holy spirit.
|Last week, we were thinking about the first sequel
|to Easter, the discoverer, the revelation
|of that which we commemorate on Ascension day,
|the full statue and significance of Jesus revealed
|in his ministry, in his passion, in his resurrection,
|that impact which compelled the people of his own time.
|First to say, never a man speak as this man.
|And then to begin to say my Lord and my God
|And we tried to realize the significance,
|the need for our own time of that transformation
|of our values, that provision of a coherent
|and intelligible theology
|and that quickening into love of our instincts
|of worship and adoration.
|The second sequel to Easter is of course
|the end product of the whole ministry of Jesus.
|The thing for which,
|to which that whole ministry was dedicated
|the event that we commemorated the (mumbles)
|when the blessed community, the fellowship
|of the holy spirit, the body of the risen Christ,
|emerged into human consciousness and history.
|We can trace it in the acts of the apostles
|where though perhaps more attention is paid
|to flames and rushing mighty winds
|and psychic utterance.
|Nevertheless, the emphasis is really upon the emergence
|of this community of which it was true
|that the multitude of them that believed
|what of one heart and of one soul and in saint Paul,
|we can trace as we traced last week,
|his growing apprehension
|of the scale and scope of the revelation in Jesus
|so that it meant transforming not only his ideas
|of man and a man's sin and a man's redemption
|but of God and his nature and his glory.
|So through the Pauline epistle,
|we see the growth of his concept
|of this new way of life,
|the growth that the seed which was sewn in him
|on the Damascus road.
|Until the end we find in the last great Hymn
|of his ministry.
|The fourth chapter of the epistle
|to the Ephesians are less than read this morning.
|We find him focusing and completing the vision
|which had haunted, has haunted prophetic souls
|all through the ages.
|The vision of a day when the earth should be filled
|with the knowledge of the Lord
|as the waters cover the sea.
|When he writes, till we all attain,
|till indeed we all come home
|that the word is used regularly
|of a ship coming into Harbor.
|Till we all come home into the unity,
|which is based upon our faith
|and our total awareness,
|our full knowledge of the son of God,
|into a mature manhood,
|into the measure of the stature
|of the fullness of the Christ.
|He sees as (mumbles) has lately told us.
|He sees the whole process of creation
|as a process of christification,
|of growing up into the fullness
|of the family of God who's first born
|is Jesus the Christ.
|That is the second sequel.
|And God knows it is needed more desperately
|than ever at this great critical period.
|When for the first time in all human history
|it's worldwide fulfillment is within sight,
|almost within reach,
|almost a necessity.
|But I suppose if your generation,
|the present student generation does not succeed
|in reaching the unifying of mankind
|they may well be submerged and civilization with them
|in man's destruction.
|There is the great crisis of our time.
|And yet, if you look as my wife and I
|were able to look from close quarters
|on the chaos in Europe.
|The straining almost to the breaking point.
|And I say this sadly but deliberately
|of the Western alone.
|If you look at the perplexity of all political
|and most economic affairs, the present moment.
|When this splendid opportunity is being frustrated
|because we cannot escape from our propaganda,
|from our nationalisms mostly out of date,
|from our prejudices and contempt of others,
|largely untrue, cannot escape into that larger sense
|that the world after all is God's world.
|It can become the home of the families of mankind.
|And we ourselves have both the physical resources
|and the scientific methods to bring that result about.
|And yet we are squandering our opportunities
|by standing on our own prestige,
|by thinking in terms of our own way of life,
|by displacing others and boycotting them.
|But cause we do not understand
|the conditions which make
|for a lasting and happy community of mankind.
|We all want it.
|No one in these days wants war.
|No one in these days really thinks his own nation
|so is superior that it can dominate the whole earth.
|Nobody is quite in the grips.
|As we were a century ago of racial
|and social and sex prejudices.
|We know that these things are out of date
|and yet somehow we cannot discover
|the things that belong unto our peace.
|We cannot discover the conditions
|Which must be fulfilled If a worldwide community
|is coming to be.
|I think we should all agree probably
|with the (mumbles) claim
|that that community must be universal,
|that you can't say to the Chinese,
|"Depart, you are not holy enough to be with us,"
|That you can't say to the Russians.
|"Your way of life is so different from ours
|that we can't have contact with you."
|We know it must be universal.
|And I hope that all of us know
|that it must be personal in character,
|and yet we can't taint.
|And I think that a large share of blame must rest
|upon those who have not yet begun to apply
|the new knowledge of humanity,
|not only physiological and biological
|but psychological and sociological to man in the man
|to the collective life of mankind.
|We've had a good deal of contempt for the crowd.
|We've had a good deal of quite unwarranted confidence
|in the method of committee government.
|We haven't really begun to think what constitutes
|the kind of community
|which many of us have experienced, Thank God.
|And by which the world history has been changed
|The community when men and women find themselves caught up
|into so great a solidarity
|that words become almost unnecessary.
|The thought passes immediately from person to person
|that a sense urgency and a par,
|grips the whole gathered folk
|and things become possible beyond all dream.
|When in fact, the elementary process of integration
|which most individuals know when they are confronted
|with sudden crises and disclosing themselves resources
|of power and speed and certainty,
|which they didn't know that they possessed
|when that same process grips a gathered folk,
|as it grip the apostles and the church at Pentecost.
|As it gripped, for instance the early Franciscan movement,
|as it gripped to an amazing extent,
|the early quakers in the 17th century
|when men and women discover
|that they are members of one body.
|Members of one family,
|psychology has been tragically confined
|within an almost adolescent view of mankind.
|Know thyself, accept thyself, be thyself.
|With the splendid ministry to damaged
|and distorted individuals
|but with no real attempt surely
|to cope with the great corporate evils of our recent days.
|Evils for which no individual is responsible.
|And which no individual,
|be he president or Pope
|can by himself affect cure.
|Why is it that we have been so blind
|to the immense increase propaganda and advertisement.
|To the immense pressure of moneyed interests,
|acting almost without moral consideration
|to the mass hatreds and prejudices
|that plunges into war against our wills.
|Why is it that we don't understand the conditions,
|the splendor that is within our reach?
|Well, look at it for a few minutes
|in the light of the Christian revelation and experience.
|Jesus quite plainly at the very beginning
|of his public ministry faced the problem
|of the sort of community towards which he should work.
|Command these stones that they have made bread,
|man does not live by bread alone,
|free markets, free distribution of food.
|The welfare state doesn't produce fullness
|of life by itself.
|You've only to look at the most successful country
|in welfare state terms, Sweden.
|And see that there are suicide rate is higher
|than that of any other civilized people
|and rising immensely rapidly.
|Man does not live by bread alone
|nor does he live surely by priest craft.
|And the exploiting of the miraculous.
|Jesus would not cast himself down from the pinnacle
|of the temple appearing as the prophets had predicted.
|And the people expected a Messiah on the clouds
|of heaven with the glory of God
|though shalt not exploit the Lord thy God.
|How often have we in the churches,
|canalized religion into something to our own advantage.
|How often have we claimed the prerogative of disposing
|of the mercies of God,
|how straight and narrow is the way
|that we have often summoned men to follow
|not that road alone
|and least of all the road now
|is so universally popular the road of deterrence
|and stored instruments of terror.
|The appealed fear, the appealed power.
|Lord, give me the kingdoms of this world.
|And then I will begin to make them
|into the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ.
|That Jesus rejected as plainly diabolical.
|And the sooner the church has the courage to say
|that its exploitation is plainly diabolical,
|the nearer it will be to its vocation,
|not those three ways, what then?
|Our father and his family,
|Jesus appealed past these economic
|and religious and political adventures of mankind
|to something much more human,
|much more basic.
|The thing that perhaps more than anything else
|in the universe distinguishes man from the beast.
|The whole circumstances of childbirth,
|the long infancy and the adolescent,
|the abandonment of a breeding season,
|the inevitable gathering together
|and holding together of the parents of the family.
|All that which so manifestly was the nursery
|of our civilization as well as of our humanity.
|He appealed to it.
|And as we saw last Sunday, rethought his idea are of God
|in appropriate terms,
|revealed to us, our father.
|Jesus proclaimed it and saint Paul elaborated it.
|From the beginning of the break with Israel,
|realizing that the old Testament had failed to fulfill
|the message of the kingdom.
|Coming on to his discovery
|that there was neither June or Greek
|neither bond nor free, neither male or female,
|but all one, one human community in Christ.
|And sir, looking forward beyond the imitation
|of Christ in the epistle to the Philippians
|and the universality of Christ in the epistles
|to the Colossians.
|To this vision of the redeemed cosmic society
|of the world as becoming at last, God's world.
|Not by the destruction of the individual,
|the individual cell does not cease to be itself
|in the unity of the body
|any more than the individual human is absolved
|and depersonalized in the unity of the society
|that is to be.
|Now it is only in communion, community.
|Someday we should learn to say only in communism
|that the individual finds his freedom
|and his fulfillment.
|When we have disassociated communism
|from the distortions and exaggerations
|and autocracies and cruelties that have degraded it,
|one world, in Christ.
|Jesus came to proclaim it.
|Paul declared it to the possible,
|the ages since then have never abandoned the hope of it.
|And in these days when Christians are beginning
|to discover their own unity,
|to see their own divisions
|in their proper proportion, as trivial and (mumbles)
|to find themselves growing up into something of the measure
|of the appreciation of the Christ
|and when the whole scientific world
|is trending in that direction.
|Yes, I say that deliberately.
|And when from the church of Rome,
|which many of us had thought almost the embodiment
|of sterilized and fossilized superstitions
|and doctrines when from the church of Rome
|has come this great people voice calling us
|so wisely and so loving to seek for things
|that belong unto peace.
|Surely we who call ourselves free.
|Surely we in the mini-sighted colors
|of our spiritual radiance,
|our denominational inheritance,
|shall meet to that cry
|and dedicate ourselves to flesh.
|To the Pentecost that is to be,
|to the day when again, the multitude of them
|that believed shall be of one heart and of one soul.
|When we come home united in our faith
|and in our awareness of and response to the Christ,
|come home to the fullness, to the statue of our manhood,
|according to the measure of the gift of the Christ.
|Let us pray.
|God, who does teach the hearts of thy faithful people
|by the sendings and the light of the holy spirit
|grant us by the same spirits to have a right
|to judgment in all things.
|that we may both perceive
|and know what things we ought to do.
|And also may have grace and power faithfully
|to fulfill the same through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
|So may the love of God unite you.
|May the joy of God inspire you.
|May the peace of God sustain you.
|May the blessing of God the father, son and holy spirit
|rest upon you and remain with you as with all his children,
|now and ever more, amen.
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