Week 6: Going Deeper into New Humanity
From the Being a Multicultural Church Circle
Philippians 2: 5-11
Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death— even death on a cross. Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
This text from the letter to the Philippians, most likely an early Christian Hymn fragment, gives us a wonderful insight into the way the early church understood Jesus. This story of who Jesus was, how he lived and how he died is in some ways a “Master Story” or a guide for the early Christian church so that they could strive to become more Christlike, as they sought to follow Jesus. Bill Loader informs us that Paul is writing to the rather fractured community of Philippi from prison and encouraging them to hold firm to their identity as followers of Christ in unity, rather than succumbing to the opposition of others. To do this they are to model themselves on the God who emptied himself and was born in human likeness. And having done so, Jesus humbled himself to the point of death: the most humiliating and degrading of deaths reserved for the worst of criminals – death on the cross. In response, God exalted him and lifted him up so that everyone across all of the earth would know that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the Glory of God the Father. How wonderful that this letter retains this possible hymn fragment which may help us to glimpse how our very earliest Christian brothers and sisters sought to focus their minds on the task of discipleship!
However trying to understand how to be a “Christ-like Community” in our complex multicultural, modern context is not simple, is it? What does it mean for us to “let the same mind be in you as was in Christ Jesus” today? What would the Uniting Church look like if that was our aim? Could we become a ‘unified’ church with one fixed and set identity, one way of being like Jesus?
Of course, we should strive to be more Christ like. But does that mean all Uniting Church communities will end up looking, sounding and acting the same way? Of course, it does not. Having a Master story is not a template by which to create a complete carbon copy replica, as though having the mind of Christ, or seeking to be “Christ like” would make us all look the same. The Uniting Church has been drawn together by God as a glorious multicultural, multicoloured patchwork of diverse cultures, languages, theologies and practices. Each of the more than 30 different language groups and 13 National Conferences who make up the Uniting Church bring a plethora of different theological understandings, liturgies, songs, art, language, rituals, ways of being community and much, much more. What a glorious richness God has given us to draw on in our striving to become more like Christ!
If Christ is to be exulted in heaven, on earth, and under the earth, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father – then we must take every opportunity to hear from, learn from, celebrate with and gather together with our brothers and sisters from all of the nationalities that make up the Uniting Church as often as we can. Imagine how much more ‘Christ like’ we could be with the wisdom of all nationalities thrown into the mix!
- How does this passage support or challenge your understanding of the incarnation of Christ? (ie: God becoming human and dwelling with us.) How can we be one ‘Christ-like’ Uniting Church made up of many cultures?
- If we are encouraged to have the same attitude as Christ, how would Christian Community look? How can your congregation, or the whole Uniting Church seek to be more Christ like in a way that celebrates and include all the richness of our diverse cultural heritages?
Niuean Benediction based on Philippians 2
Ko e lilifu mo e fakahekeaga
kua tukua tu ki ho mua ko e Iki he tau iki.
Ko Koe ne toka haau a nofoaiki he lagi
Kua haele mai kua faliu tino tagata;
Ko e fekafekau ne tukulele e moui
ma mautolu ko e tau tagata fakateaga.
Fakamonuina a mautolu
Ko e o hane fai ke he lalolagi lahi.
Kia eke haau a finagalo.
Kia ha ha ia mautolu haau a fakaalofa noa,
Ke he higoa he Matua, Tama mo e Agaaga Tapu.
Korean Benediction based on Philippians 2:
근본 하나님의 본체시나 사람의 모양으로 나타나사
자기를 낮추시고 십자가에서 죽으시고 부활하시어
모든 민족의 주가 되신 예수 그리스도의 은혜와
성령의 사귐이 여러분과 이제와 영원히 함께 하시길 축원합니다. 아멘.
Kiranya Tuhan memberkati engkau dan melindungi engkau,
Tuhan menyinari engkau dengan wajah Nya
dan memberi engkau kasih karunia.
Damai sejahtera dari Allah Bapa,
Kasih karunia dari Tuhan Yesus Kristus, dan
Persekutuan dengan Roh Kudus
Menyertai kita semua,
Sekarang sampai maranatha
原全能神 ： 父 ， 子， 及圣灵庇你们
Written by Rev Sandy Brodine
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