Dear Friends - We Believe in Jesus Christ

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father.
What's in a name? We may say it in the creed and use it in our worship but do we grasp the fulness of 'Jesus Christ's meaning? Christian language does not always aid us in our comprehension!

Take for example the word Priest. Paul speaks of his ministry using the Greek word for Old Testament priests:
"to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God"(Romans 15:16)
However, that is not the term most commonly used for ministers in the Bible.

The main term for leaders in the early church was presbyteros meaning elder. Now these elders were not all old (as priests are not all old today!) but they were spiritual mothers and fathers, as Paul himself describes himself:
"In Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel" (1 Corinthians 4:14–15).
The use of the term Father (and Mother) for ministers is both ancient and modern. Before the reformation 'Sir' was used for clergy (from the Latin for Senior), but after the reformation less formal and more personal terms have been adopted. The Reverend is probably one of the last hangovers of feudalism (meaning one who is to be revered and respected), in the same way that Members of Parliament are The Honourable. I certainly prefer the informal 'Fr' as closer to scripture and true to who I am and what I do in Christ Jesus.

So what then is in the name and title 'Christ Jesus'.

Jesus was a common name in the C1st. The Greek was Yesous and the Hebrew was Yeshua. That in itself was a shortening of a longer Hebrew name, Yehoshua. That name was a compound of two words, the Hebrew word for God and the Hebrew word for deliverer, rescuer and saviour. So the name Jesus means God is the rescuer. Christ comes from the Greek Christos, a translation of the Hebrew Meshiakh, which means ‘anointed with oil’, with an inference of kingship and priestly ministry. Oil spoke of healing, restoration, offering, and the presence of the Spirit of God.

You may be familiar with Psalm 133 which gives a vivid picture of Old Covenant anointing "like the precious oil on the head, running down upon the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down over the collar of his robes." Jesus' anointing was not just a little oil, but it was poured all over him. He was saturated with the Spirit of God to heal and restore God's people. We are Christians, literally 'little anointed ones', the same Spirit of God has been poured over us.

As Christians, we also believe that through his life and teaching Jesus demonstrated that he was more than this. That he is God. That he is not just the one who proclaims that God rescues, but the God who rescues. That he is not just the one who is anointed but the one who sends the anointing on His people. God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father. He lived his life under another title however. That of Rabbi; translated in our bibles as Teacher or Master. Yet the Hebrew root of that term is more than that. It can mean great, but it can also mean numerous, a mother or father of many.

Jesus also offers us a warning. In Matthew 23 in response to the posturing of the religious leaders of His day he tells his disciples to call no-one master (so Mr. Is out), no-one father (including your parent), no one teacher (so Doctors – the Latin for teacher - are in trouble). It is hyperbole, exaggeration to make a point - much like Jesus' teaching that we should pluck out our eyes we sin with them (Mark 9:47). Jesus himself sent out his apostles as teachers, and those apostles ordained others too. He is warning against the dangers of falsely attributing spiritual oversight to those who do not truly hold it. He is warning about the cult of personality that replaces God's fatherhood, teaching and rule. It is sad to say that this behaviour has been seen in the church throughout history, is still seen today, and it is not always the clergy who adopt authoritarianism! Even in the Church of England with its checks and balances roles and egos can become inflated and eclipse the light of God.

Which brings us back to being Christians. We may be Bishops (meaning overseer), we may be Readers (meaning one who learns and teaches), we may be Church Wardens (meaning guardian or protector) we may be ordained or lay. But our primary and highest identity is in Christ Jesus, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God.

Much love,

Fr. Eddie



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