Some have asked for two quotes from last weekend. The first is from Archbishop Rowan Williams on the Church; the second from James Howell reflecting on what it means that the Magi went home by another road.
Here we are looking at a Church with deep roots, both human and theological, getting on with the prosaic business (always so hard) without posturing, free enough from anxiety to be grateful for new things happening, even if they are not easily digestible, doing those basic and small things which are also earth-changing – reading the Bible, bringing people to baptism, celebrating the Lord’s Supper.
What gives this Church its solidity, I suggest, is that it knows itself to exist because of God in Christ – not as a cultural fact, not as a society of militants with a human programme but as a community living in the space God has cleared; sometimes unclear about what exactly should be said about this, sometimes deeply bewildered about the people who seem to be sharing this space with us, always at a loss as to how we should plan for future security, but confident because it was not our power or initiative that cut through the brambles and made a place to live.
– Archbishop Rowan Williams, 2003 (larger extract from whole “Mixed Economies” speech here – http://www.emergingchurch.info/reflection/rowanwilliams/index.htm)
Nothing is ever the same. You don’t take the old road any longer. You unfold a new map, and discover an alternate path.
T.S. Eliot imagined the thoughts of the magi back home: ‘We returned to our places…but no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation, with alien people clutching at their gods.’ Jesus does not make my life more comfortable; Jesus doesn’t help me fit in and succeed. We are no longer at ease in a world not committed to Jesus; we notice false gods all over the place. We detect royal pretenders. Nothing is the same; nothing comes easy. A strange, unfamiliar road is now our path – but the road is going somewhere.
– James C. Howell (Feasting on the Word, under Matthew 2: 1-12)