Mere Humanity – from Rev. Welch

 

Dear Friends and Members of the United Church of Norman-UCC

Following the church calendar, last Sunday was a remembrance of the Baptism of Jesus. Then through Easter the lectionary will follow the life and teachings of Jesus. This gives us a time to reflect on the life of Jesus as a church and how we can follow him.

This is possible to the degree that Jesus was fully human. A person like you and me. To argue this view I want to highlight a passage:

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. – Philippians 2: 5-7a

1) We can be like Jesus. The first line in this passage is worth highlighting, let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus. This is possible because of the passages that follow: Jesus emptied himself, being born in human likeness.

In some theologies, Jesus is a God man, who did supernatural acts, nobody else can do. He was uniquely God and this vouchsafed the claims of Christianity. He was unlike anybody else. And the result is you should worship and follow him. But follow is an odd term for a character that no one else can be.

You can worship such a character but you cannot follow him. For Aristotle, in the Ethics, we cannot be friends with God. Friendship, for him, indicate equality which we cannot have with God. And yet Jesus declares himself a friend to his disciples, to those who follow him. That suggests a kind of equality that is different from all the attempts to separate Jesus and humanity.

2) Jesus shares the human experience. When we relate to a friend, who has experienced similar events in their life, there is a kind of solidarity which we experience. And we become open to their ideas as a result. Common experiences often ground friendships.

A God man or one merely pretending to be human, is not someone who experiences frustration, anger, love, loss, physical ailments, the joys and pains of growing up. Remembering the hymn, “What a friend we have in Jesus”, it’d be hard to imagine what shared commonality we could root that friendship in, if Jesus was not fully human.

3) Relationships Matter. To be human means that we are constituted by our relationships with each other. Parents matter, life events matter, family and friends, our religious communities, they help constitute us. If Jesus is human, then all those relationships matter to him as well and helped make him the person he was.

And that means how he related to those around him matter. The wisdom of the four gospels is that we have stories. Stories of Jesus relating to family, friends, enemies, women, children, different religious communities, the Romans. I think we have such stories because what mattered was not just was said but how it was said, and to whom. The context of relationships is as much the teaching as the teachings themselves.

4) God is revealed in our humanity. If God is what acts to save and transform us, if it is that reality which sustains us, allows us to grow, connect, and love one another, then we can only come to see God in Jesus because of his humanity, not because he was a supernatural agent on a stealth mission.

His relationships, his friendships, his social context, his sharing our lot become a way of learning about God. Relationships save us. Friendships save us. Love saves us. And that happens in and through one another. When Jesus shares in that and in the life of our world, then we encounter God and that which saves us.

Blessings,

Rev. Dwight Welch

 

 

Adult Education and Future Events

Anne Masters

1) January 15, and 22nd 2017 our adult education will be lead by Chris Carter as explore the PBS Frontline series “From Jesus to Christ.” It’s a historical documentary on the origins of the New Testament and the early church. We start Sundays at 9:45 a.m.

2) Retirement Reception for Anne Masters. Sunday, January 15. Come and Go with Refreshments and Pianist. 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. with comments at 3:00, followed by building tours for those interested. Pioneer Building/Norman West Library, 300 Norman Center Court (the old Borders Building.)

3) Women’s March at the Oklahoma State Capital on January 21, 2017. For all of us, men and women, who are unable to attend the march on Washington DC this is a way to add our voices concerning the issues we care about. The demonstration starts at 10 am and goes to 3 pm. There will be speakers during the event.

If you cannot attend for the full time, please consider coming for whatever time you can so that we will be counted in the numbers that take part in this important event in order to get the attention of those in DC. Many are bringing signs, so feel free to champion the cause that is close to your heart.

4) The Islamic Society of Norman and the United Church of Norman UCC are co-sponsoring a health fair. ICNNA Relief Shifa Clinic Oklahoma city Volunteers Team along with Dr Mudassir Nawaz will be at the United Church of Norman UCC Saturday, January 28th, 2017 at from 10 a.m to 1 p.m. All Health fair participants, don’t eat or drink anything except water 8-10 hours before coming to the Health fair. Food and snacks will be available after your visit.

5) Congregational meeting Sunday January 29th starting at 9:30 a.m as we discuss a revised budget, settle on locations for worship, and update our committees.

 

 

Book Club January 16th

We’re finish the 9th chapter of the Last Puritan and begin discussing Listen Liberal at Nancy Logan’s home 3200 Summit Bend at 7pm.

 

 

Food and Shelter Needs

Resident and Shelter Needs include soap, cleaning supplies, furniture, diapers. Kitchen Needs are dry sealed foods. Care Packets for the homeless include deodorant, self care products, snack foods

 

 

A New Recycling Box

Given the number of paper products we use for our morning gatherings and conversation box the Social Justice committee has set up a recycling box to discard those items. Look for it on Sundays!