‘The prize of virtue,’ it is said, ‘is to become God, to be illumined by the purest of lights, by becoming a Sun of that day which no darkness can dim.’ For it is another Sun which produces this day, a Sun which shines forth the true light. And once it has illumined us, it no longer hides
And once it has illumined us, it no longer hides itself in the West, but envelops all things with its powerful light. It grants an eternal and endless light to those worthy, and transforms those who participate in this light into other Suns.
– Attributed to St Basil (329-379)
The proclamation of Easter is as radical today as it was 2000 years ago. Christianity has always called human beings to embrace the latent divinity in all creation, and most especially in human beings. “To become God” means to orient oneself so entirely in him, that we meet him as fully as he meets us, with all of ourselves, and in that meeting, that great dance, is a profound communion so entwined, so deep, so beyond anything we can ask or imagine that Christians are to become God in the world. That is what it means to be the Body of Christ: to be the Church—that is what it means to assent to the absurdity of baptism.
Yet, we are the inheritors of Church as empire, and we are also witnesses to its end as empire. In the days ahead, can we rely solely on speaking and engaging with the world in the language of “Church as empire” we have inherited? We cannot rely on people “coming back to church,” they were never here. So how do we speak to people? How do we create space and experience about the radical revelation and way of life in Christ we proclaim for those who do not speak our mother tongue?
We are all invited to share not just in the future of our own parish or Diocese, but the activation of God in creation through the hearts and hands of his illuminated people. We are called, first, to be the Church. How are we to attract, speak to, and create the means of transformation for a people who do not know the story we tell so that they may become it?
One underlying principle to this end is this: “Christians are made, not born.” Can we participate in forming a community of initiation and life long formation of gods? Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, says this:
I want to start by saying just two simple sentences about the church. First, the church exists to worship God in Jesus Christ. Second, the Church exists to make new disciples of Jesus Christ. Everything else is decoration. Some of it may be very necessary, useful, or wonderful decoration—but it’s decoration.
Friends, I suggest that this is the question for the next leg of the journey. How do we become this “Easter story” we tell, and how to do we participate in building up a body of suns to be Christ in the world? If we get the foundation right, we can decorate as we wish. But let’s decorate this Easter for the springtime of the Church. It is going to be bright, with all these suns shining forth the true light.