Many years ago when you were travelling to a foreign country and going through customs, it was common to hear a uniformed officer ask you ‘Have you anything to declare?’ If you said, ‘Yes’, you knew you were in for some questioning! So, many people who actually had some illegal product to declare actually said, ‘No’, to save themselves the trouble. Some got away with it, and some didn’t.
Today I often wonder if the world is unconsciously putting this question to the Christian Church: ‘Have you anything to declare?’ In other words, in the face of all the pain in the world, do we have a strong Word from God to declare, a Word that will make a difference and bring hope to people’s lives? Because a church with ‘nothing to declare’ has no reason to exist, except to be a kind of spiritual country club to its members. A strong church needs a strong message to declare to the world.
This coming Thursday we celebrate Ascension Day and the message of the Ascension, simply put, it is that Jesus Christ is Lord of all and we as his disciples are to go into the world and preach the good news to all creation as per His instruction (Mark chapter 16 verse 15). Note that the instruction is to all creation and a lot of people, including myself, see this command from the Lord very much in an ecological sense. As stewards not owners of God’s creation, Christians have a responsibility to care for and nourish all living things including the plants and trees. Now more than ever the world needs to hear a strong message of love, care and constancy.
Compassionate God, as you know each star you have created,
So you know the secrets of every heart;
In your loving mercy bring to your table all who are fearful and broken,
All who are wounded and needy,
That our hungers may be satisfied in the city of your peace;
Through Christ who is our peace.