Friday, April 29, 2011

Taste of New Creation: Dispositional, Relational, and Communal

The stories of Christ's Post-Resurrection interactions with the disciples and the Book of the Acts of the Apostles gives plenty of insight into how the power of Christ's Resurrection and the promise of new life avails itself to us. To begin with, we see the effect that Christ's Resurrection has on the disciples disposition. Through their interactions with Jesus after his Resurrection (c.f., the Road to Emmaus story in Luke 24:13-35) the disciples come to an entirely new way of understanding the mystery of Jesus (as a suffering Messiah) and how that mystery applies to their own lives (as those who will likewise struggle and suffer for Christ). Another effect of Christ's Resurrection and taste of the New Creation is relational in nature. In John's account of the Resurrection (John 20:19-31), John has Jesus not only appearing to the disciples, but breathing into them the Holy Spirit. Unlike the other Gospel writers, John ties the Resurrection of Christ to the intimate presence of the Spirit being given to those who are related to Jesus. New creation now consists in a completely unparalleled bond to Jesus in and through the Spirit who is both the Spirit of God and the Spirit of his Son. Finally, a taste of new creation is experienced through the new communal ties made possible by Jesus' Resurrection. Through Jesus' Spirit dwelling in the hearts of the first Christians in the Book of the Acts of the Apostles, a community of worship and mutual support is formed in which no one is in need of anything (Acts 2:42-47).

Just as the earliest disciples "tasted" and experienced new creation, so can we. Through allowing the Lord's Words in scripture to take hold of our imaginations and settle deeply into our hearts, our dispositions change from being "reactive" to life's events to being "reflective" and deliberately interpreting all of life's circumstances through a "paschal" (meaning, Christ-like) frame of reference (for more on this, see Tuesday's blog reflection). We likewise experience new creation when we open ourselves to the presence of the Holy Spirit at work in our lives and our world. This can be as easy as talking a walk in nature and being drawn into the beauty and fragility of the web of life or it can be as challenging as making more deliberate decisions regarding what information we allow into our lives (following the proverb, "garbage in, garbage out"). Lastly, new creation cannot be experienced in all of it's robustness without an integral connection and commitment to community. This implies being led by the Spirit of the Resurrected Lord to some degree of involvement at all levels of community: socio, cultural, and political. It means taking a stand for the values of the Kingdom and working hard to sew them into the fabric of culture - not with the aim of making culture Christian but, rather, making it open to the Reign of God that is already among us but not fully so. The experience of new creation made possible by Christ's Resurrection is something that is indeed accessible to us, all we need do is allow ourselves to be more deeply and powerfully drawn into this ever-present though very subtle mystery. Pat, TOR