In her virtual sermon for 7 February, Marketors’ Chaplain Canon Dr Alison Joyce considered the meaning of Christianity. Taking Sunday’s St John’s Gospel reading, which included “In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God and the word was God”, she observed that this reminds us of the cosmic significance of Christ – which can render some people’s perception of Christianity as far too limited.
As a previous Chaplain to the community of St John the Divine (on which “Call the Midwife” was based), she heard this Gospel read in the memorable atmosphere of their candlelit Midnight Masses, which gave her a lasting sense of its power.
She felt that some in the Anglican church had become focussed far too narrowly on simply trying to recruit people to the faith. For example, a fundamental evangelist she met in the City, working to convert young Financial people, said he was just trying to save their souls – he didn’t seem to think that coming to a faith might have any implications for their ethical principles or the way in which they lived out their faith in relation to the wider world.
What Christianity does, Alison came to recognise, is to transform everything, including changing society. An American scholar called Yoder had outlined the new way of living that this might represent, as we deal with:
Offenders – by forgiving them
Violence – by suffering
Money – by sharing it
Leadership – through drawing on the gifts of each member
Corrupt Society – by building a new one, not smashing the old
Pattern of Relationships – by a radical new vision of what it means to be a person: the changed relationship of man and woman, parent and child, master and slave
Our destinies are bound up with the whole of creation and everything in it. That is the call of Christ.
As we turn towards the self-reflection of Lent, we should consider the bigger picture.