Christ On the Street.. the death of God was more than a rumour!

Today I met up with Russell McLarty, the Interim minister at Edinburgh's St Andrew's and St George's Church of Scotland. We had arranged a few weeks ago to take the bread and wine,two of the most powerful symbols of the Gospel out into George Street. Many people passed by and ignored the invitation others were polite as they explained they had to be somewhere by a certain time. One particular man stopped and said he was Jewish, then with a smile he added "we've been doing this long before you ever started" Its good to be reminded that Jesus wasn't a Christian but in fact was a Jew. Others however did stop and share the bread and the wine on the street. For some it may well have just bread and wine, while for others it was an act of worship and thanksgiving. For some it was a transcendent moment on a busy Edinburgh street, buses passing by, others rushing to make deadlines, but for them , for those who stopped it was important. I doubt if they will ever forget the two nameless ministers who shared bread and wine with them on the street, but more than that, they will not forget because they were remembering, with grateful hearts what it means to be thankful to the one who gave up his life to redeemed humanity. Did they understand it, you might ask? Do I understand it? Do you understand it? The answer we all must give is no but somehow I get it. It rings true for me. It speaks at another level, it engages my mind, my emotions and my actions. It draws me to the place where I think about God in terms of the crucified. Perhaps the phrase that Luther used about God is startling and controversial, when he spoke of "the Crucified God" For Luther this phrase was the code that would open our understanding of the nature of God. He reminds us that the Christian can only speak of the glory,wisdom, righteousness and strength of God as they are revealed to us in the crucified Christ. Luther saw the cross as a kind of riddle, in the same way as Samson saw the riddle of bees in the carcass of the dead lion. " Out of the strong came forth sweetness" Luther wrote in these terms," If God is present in the cross,then he is a God whose presence is hidden from us" Luther begins to unpack this idea when he quotes Isaiah, 45.15 " Truly You are a hidden God!" Yet as Luther continues to gaze on the cross the hiddenness of God is revealed in the dereliction, and it is this dereliction that opens the way into God's presence. He reflect that no one would dream of seeking God in the 'disgrace,poverty,death and everything else that is shown to us in the suffering Christ" Yet somehow God is there hidden, yet revealed, for those who care to seek him. I wonder if we have lost something of the shear anti-establishment attitude of the first Christians. We need to look and listen to the gospel stories through the eyes of Jesus. What he taught was often hidden, that is why he spoke in parables. Jesus would say they just can't see it. Perhaps we as followers of Jesus need to display more revolutionary characteristics. Do we need to be more active in living out the core values of the cross? Isn't it such a challenging thing to turn the other cheek, to listen, to engage with those who would dearly love to see us wiped out. Too often we Christians are content to speak of church membership but we are less inclined to speak about the person of Jesus. The thing is the most powerful of all the stories in human history is the story of Jesus and his amazing act of redeeming a lost and broken world. In other words his message speaks directly into the lives and hearts of each one of us 2000 years later. I think it was something of that power and significance that I began to understand a little bit better as we engaged with the symbols of the Gospel in the middle of a busy Edinburgh Street. The real church without walls was engaging effectively today on the streets of Edinburgh.
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