This article first appeared in the January issue of the Anglican Journal.
To believe in Jesus is to believe that God has a destiny for humanity and creation. To believe is to have confidence, not only that God will eventually redeem humanity and bring creation to its fulfillment, but that this destiny is present today, the Word made flesh, among us, in us and for us.
We could say that this reality is always being born among us. Though the historical life of the Word of God documents a singular instance of this, it is an instance that reveals the ongoing presence. When we proclaim his birth, death and resurrection, we proclaim his coming again-certainly this will be a witnessed historical reality, but to proclaim resurrection is to proclaim its emergence, its birth, in each and every day.
Many of us have experienced and believe in the birth of the living Word of God in our personal lives. We witness to a birth of hope, where there was despair, and a birth of freedom, where there was slavery. In today’s world, we often find it harder to believe in this birth in the life we share with others, in the church and, more so, in the larger society. It would seem that Jesus is only experienced away from our communal life, that there is limited vitality to his presence in church life and, even more, that there is an absence of his presence in society.
This is not biblical faith, which proclaims that the Word of God, in the power of the Spirit, is in history, in creation, working out a purpose and a destiny. The living Word is present as helper and friend to the individual, as loving support in our family and cultural life.
The Word is also present in creation and history as justice and peace, and as the courage to prophetic witness and loving sacrifice. We knew this Word, silently but powerfully, on our mother’s lap, though we had no way to understand it. We know this Word in the goodness that emerges, is born, in our common life, though we often have difficulty discerning it.
The church is called to witness to the Word of God in both our individual and our common life. The disciplines of prayer, scripture reading and proclamation are all a part of this vocation to discern the Word of God and to unveil it for the world-in the awesome wonder of its unique and singular manifestation in Jesus of Nazareth, but also in the Word’s hidden birth in our everyday lives in creation and history.
Jesus will surely come again and all will see him like lightning lighting up the sky. He is also awesomely present in the quiet but wondrous daily birth of the Word.
Bishop Mark MacDonald is national indigenous bishop of the Anglican Church of Canada.