Taste and See: Working the work

Julian of Norwich

The Gospel acclamation last Sunday was notable:

Alleluia, alleluia!
God in Christ was reconciling the world to himself,
and he has entrusted to us the news that they are reconciled.

The verse comes from St Paul’s Second letter to the Corinthians (2 Cor 5:19).

It makes an important assertion about the work of Jesus, and about work entrusted to us. At firs sight two different works seem to be described. The first the work of Jesus, the second the work of us. God in Christ reconciles, and then we are to tell people about what God in Christ has done.

Not so. First God is Christ was reconciling, and indeed God in Christ still is reconciling the world to himself – including all parts of the world (including us) still at some distance because of sin.Yes, in one sense, the work is complete. Christ is risen and creation is reconciled in him. And yet, we know, how much of that we still need to be completed in us. The lack is not in him and what he has done, but in us and what we have allowed ourselves, been able to receive.

Second, the work of sharing the good news is itself an encouraging work of reconciliation. And when we try to do it, we know that we are doing it not in and of ourselves, but as an extension of Christ’s reconciling work. It is his work in us.

The Christian life, and the salvation of the world, is a more dynamic and participative thing than sometimes we allow for.

For today rejoice. Know that you are reconciled in Christ. Do what you can to share the good news with others, and bring them closer to Christ who is already so much closer to them than they, or we, can know.

The image is a detail of a work by Alan Oldfield, of Julian of Norwich from the chapel at the Belsey Bridge Conference Centre in Ditchingham, Suffolk. In the work she gazes back beyond her present situation to the crucified and risen Lord. What is past becomes present, what has been achieved is received.
Julian is one of the notable witnesses to what God in Christ has done, and is doing. Her writings, her work continues to bear potent witness to the living saving love of God in Christ, even 700 years after her death.
Photo (c) 2013, Allen Morris
Click here for an image of the whole painting and a reflection on Julian.