This summer edition of Stimulus is our gift to you, free of charge. All you had to do was open it with a click, and keep clicking. God’s invitation to salvation is a bit like that. Jesus has done it all, beginning his earthly existence as a zygote, growing to term, and emerging into the world some 2000 years ago to changes its history. Around thirty years later, he entered the mainstream for three years (give or take), and revealed God to us. He showed us that God is compassion embodied who loves the unlovable (like me), and then died to save the world. Then, stunningly, he was raised from the dead, and now sits at God’s right hand governing his world. What do we have to do? We simply click on the hyperlink that says, “I believe.” We then enter the world that emerges from that first Christmas. Ours then is to live that faith every day, repeatedly clicking “yes,” as God works in and through us to save his world.
This edition of Stimulus is a veritable Christmas feast. Laidlaw theologian, Greg Liston, introduces us to “Third Article Theology,” which employs “the Spirit as a God-given lens by which to conduct theological enquiry.” He then uses this lens to consider the anointed life of Jesus, the church, and prayer, calling us to rethink the way we view our Christian lives – what a great idea as we consider Jesus’ incarnation this Advent! Former Laidlaw postgraduate student, Jonathan Arthur, takes us into the world of the disputed Māori god, Io, arguing humbly yet persuasively that while the “concept of Io in the end will continue to remain a mystery,” Māori believed in the supreme being prior to European contact. He leaves us with something deep on which to reflect as we consider the phenomenal idea that God became flesh that first Christmas. In recent times, the gospel call to ecological concern has been increasingly recognized. Victoria University Policy Studies academic Jonathan Boston adeptly discusses the strengths and weaknesses of Laudato Si’: A Plea from Pope Francis to Protect “Our Common Home.” His challenge – “Humanity needs an ecological conversion and an environmental reformation” – could not be more appropriate as we remember God’s intervention to redeem all of creation.
There are a range of other “smaller” Christmas presents exploring a truly Trinitarian spirituality (David Crawley), a passionate call to remember the New Zealand land wars (Wendy Fowler), a rich lament (Jonathan Hoskin), the usually hilarious missional musings of St Imulus, some brilliant ideas on preaching Isaiah 6 (Geoff New), and not insignificant book and movie reviews. All these presents we commend to you with God’s love and make available with but a click.
Our prayer for you this Yuletide season is that you deeply reflect on the God who became one of us to not only show us a new way to be, but who offers us the power to live the lives for which we are created. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Mark Keown is the co-editor of Stimulus and New Testament Lecturer at Laidlaw College.