Over the last few weeks we’ve been thinking about the Church. Here’s are some thoughts about the importance of the resurrection for the Church.
What is the Church?
It is the Spirit who constitutes the Church. The Spirit works in the lives of people, drawing and enabling them to give their ‘yes’ to God in faith. It is the Spirit of God who acts in the world, through the Word of God and the sacraments; that draws, gathers and the holds people in a community of unity in love.
The Spirit calls the Church to participate in God’s mission of transforming and uniting the world in love. A mission that seeks to make real Jesus’ prayer that God’s kingdom would come ‘on earth as it is in heaven’. As such the Spirit creates the church, consecrates it, equips and empowers it with gifts and graces to participate in God’s mission to the world.
What does it mean to be the Church?
It means that we are the people of God. The people who have heard and responded to God’s call and who are seeking to live on the basis of God’s concerns for love, mercy, compassion, justice and freedom. In seeking to live in this way we look to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus as our supreme example – for no one has lived so perfectly in tune with God and his will than Jesus.
However, Jesus Christ is much more than an example to copy, he is ‘they way, the truth and the life’. Jesus was ‘Emmanuel’, God with us, and through Jesus we see that when Emmanuel is with us there is food for the hungry, the blind and lame are healed, the captives are set free and all who have been last are now welcomed and made first.
This relationship of mutual indwelling – of God in Christ and Christ is God – is also extended to us the disciples. That is why Jesus says that he no longer calls us ‘slaves’ but ‘friends’. A friendship that draws us into a relationship of love, deep knowing and abiding, a relationship that transforms us. It is because of this relationship and through it that we are able to ‘love as we have been loved’ and ‘produce much fruit’.
That is why the resurrection of Christ is so central for the Church – for it is the risen Christ who is with us, the contemporary community of disciples, just has he was with the twelve – and without him ‘we can do nothing’. Without the resurrection of Jesus, there is no Church. Without the risen Jesus at the centre of the church we cannot know God.