Sent to me by Carole Burton
What a way to begin Lent- a statement from our church denying the reality of what the Cross of Jesus is all about. =================================================================
From the UC statement below: "We do not worship a sadistic God who is satisfied or appeased by sacrifice and blood. Jesus' suffering in fact comes from his standing with the poor and the oppressed, not to pay a debt for human sin. As a church we believe that God is present to all who suffer and that God does not desire suffering in any form." ===================================
News Release -- Tuesday, February 24, 2004
Wed, 25 Feb 2004 10:47:18 -0500
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(This Release is being sent to Pastoral Charges by blind carbon copy)
For Immediate Release
Tuesday, February 24, 2004
The United Church of Canada issues statement
on Lent and The Passion of The Christ
Toronto: February 25 is Ash Wednesday and marks the beginning of
Lent. For the people of The United Church of Canada, together with many Christians, Lent is a time of reflection, prayer, and personal and community self-examination preparing for the celebration of Easter.
However it seems that this Ash Wednesday much of North America's attention is focused on the opening of Mel Gibson's film The Passion of The Christ.
Some Christians hope that the film will usher in a spiritual awakening and a turning to Jesus unparalleled in our time.
At the same time many have raised serious concerns that, intentionally or not, the film may fuel growing antisemitism by the way Jews and Jewish leaders are depicted as key players in Jesus' death.
Moreover, even other groups are concerned that the film, while purporting to be "authentic" and historically accurate, glorifies violence and suffering to such an extent that it distorts the truth and meaning of Jesus' suffering and death.
The United Church of Canada vigorously condemns antisemitism and at the meeting of the 38th General Council this past summer declared that antisemitism and anti-Judaism are affronts to the gospel. The statement also rejected all teaching of a theology of contempt towards Jews and Judaism.
We therefore urge all those who see the film to bring this perspective to bear: Jewish leaders did not kill Jesus, the Roman Empire did. Nothing about Jesus' life or death should ever be used to injure or defame the Jewish people.
United Church people seeing the film and reflecting on their faith this Lent are also invited to question the meaning and interpretation of violence and suffering as presented by Gibson, says the Rev. Bruce Gregersen, General Council Minister for Programs for Mission and Ministry.
"There is no doubt that Jesus died a violent death at the hands of the Romans. But the unrelenting and excessive focus on Jesus' suffering, apart from his life and ministry, and separated from the lives of all those suffering under the Romans, runs the risk of glorifying violence and celebrating suffering," adds Gregersen.
Gregersen comments that "The film could give the impression that suffering and sacrifice are the only way to win God's love. We do not worship a sadistic God who is satisfied or appeased by sacrifice and blood. Jesus' suffering in fact comes from his standing with the poor and the oppressed, not to pay a debt for human sin. As a church we believe that God is present to all who suffer and that God does not desire suffering in any form."
"This Lent we are invited to consider Jesus' suffering as a powerful sign of God's love and care for the socially marginalized, the victims of torture, oppression, and injustice. Jesus loved, healed, and stood with those who suffer. He died as one of them and in doing so brought hope through God's redeeming love for all those who suffer injustice," adds Gregersen. "Jesus' resurrection reveals this powerful love, which embraces all people and is stronger than any empire."
Gregersen explains that Lent is a time of reflection.
"Jesus' passion should lead us to reflect on those who in our own time suffer oppression, torture, marginalization, and die from poverty and violence. Jesus showed God's love for them. We are called to do the same
today. When people witness the suffering of Jesus in The Passion of The Christ, the United Church calls on them to see through that suffering to
the people Jesus loved and loves and to witness to hope by sharing God's
love and in seeking justice," says Gregersen.
For more information, please contact:
The United Church of Canada
416-231-7680 ext. 2016 (business)