Homily by The Rev. Bill Crockett – Memorial for Christopher Lind

Published on 29 Jul 2014

Homily by The Rev. Bill Crockett – Memorial for Christopher Lind


Homily by Bill Crockett
at the Memorial Service for Christopher Lind at Christ Church Cathedral on July 26, 2014

I speak to you in the name of God
who is Creator of all that is,
who is the Incarnate Word in Jesus Christ,
and who is Holy Spirit

This God is no remote God. This God is a mystery of communion and community, a mystery of shared love, who reaches out to welcome Chris home, and who reaches out to embrace Anne and Emily and Aaron, their extended family, and their many friends in their sorrow and loss.

This is the God who has shared our life, our suffering, and our death, and who out of death brought new life and hope to us all in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

This is the faith in which Chris lived and died.

Our prayer today is that Anne, Emily, and Aaron will know the love of the great company of friends who surround them, and the love of the God who has shared our life and our death, and who offers us all new life out of the valley of sorrow and death.

Chris leaves behind him a powerful legacy. He was a visionary and a prophetic voice in Canadian society. At the heart of his theology is the quest for justice: social justice, economic justice, and environmental justice. Chris stands in the tradition of the great Hebrew prophets who thundered against the injustices of their day. We heard this in the reading from Isaiah, Chapter 58:

“Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and to break every yoke?” (Isa. 58:6-7)

In his writings Chris works out a contemporary justice-oriented theology which takes account of the injustices we face in our world in the context of globalization and environmental change.

Chris’ theological outlook calls us forward to a new vision of life in the church, life in society, and life on this planet. Chris chose to go to Sorrento because he had a new vision for the church and what it can mean for Christians to live and act for justice in a changing world.

The twin themes that run through Chris’ writings are the relationship between ethics and economics, and the theme of ecojustice. He makes a strong plea for a moral economy and for an Earth-centered approach to justice. A moral economy is an economy that is embedded in the fundamental values of a society and serves the common good rather than private gain. Drawing on the work of Karl Polanyi and others Chris shows how our present market economy and the reality of economic globalization have turned the relationship between society and the economy upside down. Instead of the fundamental values of society determining economic relationships, economics becomes divorced from ethics.

In a moral economy all persons have access to the basic necessities of life and are empowered to participate fully in the social and economic life of society. In an ecojustice or Earth-centered approach human life and economic activity are located within the web of all life and activity on the planet.

Chris discusses four principles or landmarks which mark the boundaries of a moral economy: SOLIDARITY, SUSTAINABILITY, SUFFICIENCY, and EQUITY. Chris embraced these four principles, but was very clear that they are not abstract principles. He envisioned a variety of concrete ways in which these principles have been and could be embodied in the life of society:

SOLIDARITY means respect for the diversity of creation and all its creatures, both human and non-human.

SUSTAINABILITY means adopting habits of living and working and technologies which enable all life on earth to flourish including future generations

SUFFICIENCY means the equitable distribution of the world’s resources, so that the fundamental needs of all are secured

EQUITY means participation in decision-making that empowers minorities as well as majorities and enables all to receive their just due

In his most recent book, Rumours of a Moral Economy, Chris spells all this out in fine detail. I encourage you to visit Chris’ website christopherlind.ca. to explore his theological vision in the articles, addresses, and books that he has written and the links he provides there as resources to support your own commitment to the task of creating a just society.

In the reading from Luke’s Gospel that we just heard Jesus delivers his first sermon in the synagogue in his hometown of Nazareth. He takes as his text Isaiah Chap. 61 which proclaims the Year of Jubilee. The Year of Jubilee is a wonderful biblical model of a moral economy and of the principles of ecojustice.

In Jewish tradition a system of Sabbath years was set up to reestablish justice and equality among the people and to renew the earth. Slaves were released, the land was allowed to rest, and outstanding debts were cancelled. Every seventh Sabbath year, or every 49 or 50 years, there was a Jubilee Year that widened the circle of liberation. Land was returned to the original owners, slaves were freed, and debts were cancelled. In this way, the values embedded in Israelite society enabled the overcoming of the injustices that prevailed, so that each generation was given a fresh start.

We don’t know how far these Sabbath Years were actually observed, but when Jesus begins his teaching he proclaims the Year of Jubilee as central to his proclamation of the reign of God. In God’s reign, the principles of ecojustice and a moral economy will be fulfilled. In our present world order we have to struggle to bring them into being. Chris is a prophetic voice who pointed the way forward for all of us in this struggle.

A friend asked me whether Chris had a sense of humour. The answer is a resounding yes. Chris loved to ask provocative questions. He was all about personal and social transformation, and this often requires humour and light heartedness as well as critical thinking. For him Christian faith not only engaged the mind. It engaged all the senses as well. As he approached his own death, he got a dialogue going on his Facebook page in which he asked his friends to reflect with him on the meaning of resurrection. “2 days ago,” he says, “I was invited to taste my first Gin & Tonic of the season. So, “he says,” here is a new question: This is what Resurrection tastes like to me. So, What does resurrection taste like to you? The responses ranged from “fresh ground, dark roast, full bodied” coffee in the morning to “Salty tears after a big cry and the warmth of a long yearned for embrace when you realize that all is forgiven.”

The response that I liked best was this one: “What I like about resurrection is that it is so easily applied to everyday life and encompasses so many people. The very fact that one can rise out of a huge storm, or scary time, or from something dangerous, and come into a new period of opened eyes, clearer understanding, and having received such good will… this is a gift that one wouldn’t have thought possible without the experience.”

Whatever shape it may take, however it may taste, resurrection means new life out of death, both for those who have died and for those of us still living. As Paul puts it in Chapter 8 of the Epistle to the Romans:

“I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us . . . . No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through the one who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.” (Rom. 8:18, 37-39)

At the heart of reality is a Love and an Energy that is stronger than death. This love and this energy is what Christians call God. God is the power of love and energy at the heart of the universe, and it is into the arms of this love and this energy that both Chris and his family are now enfolded.

In the Commendation at the conclusion of this service we will commit Chris into the embrace of God’s love. Anne. Emily, and Aaron, may you know today and in the coming days the embrace of the great company of friends who surround you, and may you too run straight into the embrace of the God who is Love, and who offers you new life in the midst of your sorrow and loss.

Thanks be to God

 

Image: Courtesy of Sue Cruickshank (photograph of original artwork)

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