St John the Baptist Parish Church

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Vicar's column - January 2017

How does the world stage compare to the political situation in Palestine 2,000 years ago? In the West we are seeing a rise in the popularity of nationalist leaders. Walls are being built once more, despite the memory of post-communism cheers as walls were torn down. Whilst, we wait to see if Donald Trump will carry out his threat to have a wall constructed along the border with Mexico, the epic separation wall cutting off Palestinian territory in the West Bank from Israel continues to cause misery for countless Palestinians. Today Palestine lives under Israeli occupation, just as in Jesus day the Jewish population were subject to the occupying power of the Roman Empire and longed for liberation. The Romans demanded allegiance to state and Emperor.

In the fullness of time, the promised Messiah entered the scene. Yet, Jesus did not meet expectations. First, he came kicking and screaming into human existence as a vulnerable baby, a refugee, no less. Then, when he matured and finally revealed his manifesto, it did not entail taking the Romans by force and kicking them out of Jerusalem. Israel was not to get its boarders back as they had hoped. Jesus was a king but not in terms of the world’s agenda. Christ’s is an altogether Kingdom: a kingdom of justice and mercy, a kingdom of love and peace; a kingdom without borders. Christ revealed God’s glory through his vulnerability and suffering; the God who enters in the messiness of human life.

Populist nationalistic leaders, like empires, rise and fall. It is important that we do not get swayed by those who shout the loudest or by single policies at the expense of other values. May we order our lives according to the revelation of the Word made flesh, the One who came among us in order to show us what God is like and God’s purposes for the human race.  

Rev Lisa Cornwell