Bristol United Church of Christ     "The Church on the Hill"
Bristol United Church of Christ         "The Church on the Hill"  

Pastor's Corner


Follow Christ into New Life

 As you receive this edition of The Newsletter, we shall be arriving at the pinnacle (or perhaps we might say the nadir) of the season of Lent: Palm Sunday, Holy Week, Maundy Thursday, and Good Friday. Each Lenten season, we follow Jesus on his walk, his journey of ministry, which takes him from his home in Galilee to the center of the world (for three world religions) at Jerusalem. There he confronts the two powers of empire and religious leadership. Each power is able to be corrupted; each power is corrupting to those who would wield that power; each power is oppressive and oppressing to the everyday folk who just want to live their lives and get by. Lent is an important season for those who would be followers of Jesus. It exposes the costs of confronting the powers on those who would take up the cause of God’s justice. God’s justice is THE HALLMARK of the Realm of God (Kingdom of Heaven). To pursue this goal alone is to invite martyrdom at the hands of the powerful, or at the hands of those controlled by them. The Jesus story, the Gospel, does pass through martyrdom, but it does not stop or end there. The Gospel walks with Jesus up to his martyrdom for the cause of God’s justice, but the Gospel does not end with Jesus’ death on the cross. The Gospel continues to walk with Jesus, God’s appointed one, the Risen One, through death and beyond: into new life and into resurrection.



The Gospel does not end at the cross, though many may wish to tarry there. To walk with Jesus only that far, to remain at the foot of the cross and worship and revere the Savior in death is to miss the whole point of the Gospel. The Gospel does not end at the cross, but in life beyond it. For those who would follow Christ, who would call themselves Christ’s followers, this is where the Gospel, the Good News Message of God really begins. To take up the cross and follow Christ is to take up Christ’s work for God’s justice to manifest in the world (Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as in heaven.) How on earth (literally) can we do this, you may ask. Well, the written Gospel shows us what Jesus did that had such an effect on people that he is remembered and followed 2,000+ years later. In all his life that we know about from the gospels, Jesus lived and embodied God’s love for people: all people AND every person. Even while telling difficult stories to teach important and often difficult lessons, Jesus did not go around forcing God’s way on others; he did not “beat” goodness or holiness into people, but rather he loved them. He loved people by healing them, forgiving them, caring for their mental, spiritual, and physical health. He loved them by telling the truth about power and those who misuse it. He loved them by telling the truth about the human condition: our propensity to take the easy way rather than the right way. And he showed that living God’s love is possible and transformative to those who receive it as well as those who embody it and give it.


And what does the love of God look like? It looks like treating others, like us or not, with kindness and respect. It looks like welcoming strangers and learning that they are more like us than not. It looks like standing up for what is right, even if doing so will cost us in the eyes of some people. The love of God is not a zero-sum proposition. The love of God grows as it reaches more and more people and lifts them to be able to embody it to more and more people. This Easter, let us remember that the Gospel continues to be written today in the lives of those who will come to be loved as God would love, as Jesus would love.