Amos 8:1-12; Psalm 52; Colossians 1:15-29; Luke 10:38-42

Proper 11 (16) Eighth Sunday after Pentecost
18 July, 2010 Vanderbilt Divinity Library

Proper 11C / Ordinary 16C / Pentecost 8
July 18, 2010 Textweek

In the name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Ame

So, we are to have another election, and most of us are at the same time interested and disinterested in whole election process. So who are you going to vote for: Julia Gillard or Tony Abbot? Could do this with a show of hands, I suppose! Before you all switch off - this is not a party political broadcast - but I do want to reflect on a couple of observations that hopefully illustrate a starting point for us in our reading or understanding of the Holy Scriptures.

For many, most probably for most, the election is a choice between Julia Gillard and Tony Abbot. Most of the media hype and spin is directed toward these two persons and what they say they will do for Australia. Most cafe table discussions (has to be at cafes as we can’t discuss politics at home) will almost gravitationally come down to an evaluation of what Tony or Julia will or won’t do to give us a better future. These discussions come down to ‘what’s in it for me’ – and that’s where they mirror the whole election process.

If we pause in these discussions, we actually know that neither Julia nor Tony is really going to run the country. They are representative of a whole process of governance - they are subject to the party line of their respective parties, and their position in terms of being ‘Prime Minister’ is totally dependent on the positions achieved by every other candidate involved in the process. Only if a majority of Labor candidates get in is Julia’s position is realised; if a majority of Liberal/Coalition candidates get in, then Tony’s position is realised.

The ‘church’ is also a political movement. It is engaged in a process that seeks to identify and realise a governance for all that is generative of positive future. It too has a candidate for ‘Prime Minister’ in Jesus Christ. It is no wonder then that we fall into the same trap of putting the whole responsibility for the process onto him – as if it is by his own being, person and efforts that all will be achieved. Just as Julia and Tony are made icons of their respective positions in the process of Australian governance, just as both Julia and Tony are not independently operative in terms of realising that governance, so too with Jesus. Jesus is an icon, a revelation of the process of life-governance for all. And the manifesto or potential outcomes of his political position (as seen in the Scriptures) are fully, totally and unconditionally in the hands of those who chose to make him their elect. I think it’s a really important distinction to realise. It is so easy to think that Julia or Tony can do it and we fall into the same trap of ‘Jesus can do it’. And so what we do is we look outside all the time.

Paul sees beyond Jesus as the one who is to accomplish all: “Christ is the image of the invisible God.” If we read the book of Genesis we find another image of the invisible God - ourselves created in the image of God. Christ is “the firstborn of all creation”, another important understanding, for it sees Jesus as operative before he became flesh. Paul reveals Christ as present in all beginnings.

“And in him all things hold together” - there are no factions, no party lines, no national borders.
The gospel, the politics of Christ, “the gospel that you heard.... has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven.” It is not contained nor constrained in the church, it is not a message for Christians, and it is not Christ’s recording in Hansard. Rather, it is a truth enfleshed in all, and to be realised by all.

Paul then tells the Colossians of his voting intentions: “I, Paul, became a servant of this gospel.....for your sake, and in my flesh I am completing what is lacking in Christ's afflictions”.
Having cast his vote, Paul leaves the synagogue, he leaves the tradition of the past, “to make known how great among the Gentiles (those who are seen as outside) are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you”. The Glory of this mystery, the hope of Glory is Christ in you. Looking to Jesus as our Saviour is a futile as looking to Julia or Tony as the saviour of Australia. What is proclaimed throughout the Holy Scriptures is a far more empowering truth – we are called and encouraged to look to ourselves and to each other as being “in Christ”.

Every election carries the hope of a new beginning. As we consider our part in governing the future for all people, let’s hold on to the idea of “the firstborn of all creation”, the revelation that the process for each and every new beginning is Christ in you.

In the first reading Amos sets the date for the next election. The basket of summer fruit is a sign that end is coming to the current paradigm of life, for that way of living, our way of living, has been corrupted. The rich “trample on the needy, and bring ruin to the poor of the land” and can’t wait for the temple worship to end so that they can get back to the marketplace and continue their exploitation through buying and selling. Amos sets the date for the next election and the date is today.

It is at times quite sobering to appreciate these ancient words, words from long ago speak to and resonate with present moment. The time is surely coming, says the Lord GOD, when I will send a famine on the land; not a famine of bread, or a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD. It is also empowering to appreciate that these ancient words, what is revealed in the Scriptures, has relevance for ourselves and our own life in Christ.