Slideshow image

Dear Friends in Valhalla Parish—

As we look ahead to the coming of the One who brings liberation, my mind turns to those who most desperately need such liberation, and for it to make a real and concrete difference in their lives.

Oftentimes in the Church we speak about individual liberation, the liberation or freedom we have in Christ. We speak about this spiritually. We speak about it emotionally. We speak about it psychologically. And these are all dimensions of God's liberation for all of Creation.

And yet, if we speak of such freedom in the absence of material liberation, we have missed a core aspect of the gospel. All dimensions of life are connected, and God, we know, has come to set not just individuals but entire communities free.

The gospel has dimensions both internal and external. The gospel is holistic in its proclamation of liberation from sin and death.

What I was drawn to remember this week is that there are many in our world who are in need of such liberation. This week I was reminded both of the reality that we need food banks, and that food banks don't solve the hunger problem. They fulfil immediate needs, but the systems that lead to poverty, and thus to homelessness, hunger, and so on, keep operating unchecked. 

This time of year, we are invited to give to the needs of others. And so we should!

Throughout the scriptures, God's people are asked to set aside extra resources for the good of those who have been disposessed of their land, and for those who suffer in any other way. That's why we take up collections for sleeping bags and hand wand warmers and grocery cards: to respond to immediate needs. And that is why we are also invited to advocate—in Jesus' name—for the liberation of all people, indeed, all of Creation.

As we will see this week in reading about John the Baptist, the gospel is inherently political. It calls us to turn from ways in which we have used power over others to do them harm. It calls us to turn towards the people who have been harmed, and to walk in a good way with them, sharing our resources as we are able, and working side by side until all people have enough. 

In the days ahead, please consider giving what you can for the very real and immediate needs of our neighbours. We will be collecting sleeping bags and hand warmers and winter weight socks and other necessary things for those who are sleeping outside in these cold days.

May we respond to the needs of those around us knowing that our liberation is bound up with theirs, and that the call of the gospel always invites us deeper and deeper into love for God through the love we extend to our neighbour. 

In Advent Hope, 

Andrew Stephens-Rennie
Valhalla Parish Missioner