Respect Justice Camp – Diocese of Huron 2019
In Jesus’ great parable of the Vine “I am the vine, you are the branches” John 15:4, Jesus teaches his followers of the foundational interconnectedness of those united and filled with the life of God’s Spirit, for the sake of the world. St. Paul seems to take up this theme in his teaching letters to the early Church, and he also provides the pastoral admonition to early Christians to regard the importance of each individual with their varied gifts and talents as a part of the whole Body of Christ. This unity of dignity, grounded in the movement of God within each in different ways, is the foundation for Paul’s vision of the Body of Christ alive and active in the world:
Rom 12:4-6 “For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us…”
1 Cor 12:4-7 “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”
Necessarily, these teachings call for the disciples of Jesus, who live now as the Church in the world – the Body of Christ, to a deep attitude of respect for the diversity of God’s work through individuals who feel God’s Spirit motivating them to act for building God’s reign of justice, mercy and peace within the Created world.
Ultimately, the more God’s children recognize and respect the movement of God within others around them, the more they will be drawn into the model of collaboration for the sake of the world. This model, for Christians, is the model for God’s very self that has been revealed and embodied in the world and which draws in the hearts of God’s children, bringing about that final end time when God will be all in all. We give this model the name of Holy Trinity.
Robin Greenwood (“Transforming Church”) reflecting upon the writing of Andrew Dawswell in an 2004 article, “A Biblical and Theological Basis for Collaborative Ministry and Leadership” states:
“An ecclesiology for a church which is a sign and a foretaste of God’s final ordering of all things in Christ will be informed and nurtured by a social trinitarianism.”4
“A church that echoes God’s trinitarian life will be working towards modelling partnerships of many kinds – young and old, rich and poor, people of differing educational training, laity and ordained – accepting all, in their difference, having vitality and equal value.”5
This thinking is grounded in an understanding of the dynamic of the Holy Trinity of God as “perichoresis” (roughly translated as a dancing in circle together), first given expression by Gregory of Nazianzus (4th c. BCE). It has been taken up by theologians over the history of Christianity, for example in the writings of contemporary Reform theologian Jurgen Moltmann. Writing in “The Trinity and the Kingdom” (1981), Moltmann says:
“An eternal life process takes place in the triune God through the exchange of energies. The Father exists in the Son, the Son in the Father, and both of them in the Spirit, just as the Spirit exists in both the Father and the Son. By virtue of their eternal love they live in one another to such an extent, and dwell in one another to such an extent, that they are one. It is a process of most perfect and intense empathy. Precisely through the personal characteristics that distinguish them from one another, the Father, the Son and the Spirit dwell in one another and communicate eternal life to one another. In the perichoresis, the very thing that divides them becomes that which binds them together…
The trinitarian Persons do not merely exist and live in one another; they also bring one another mutually to manifestation in the divine glory. The eternal divine glory is for its part displayed through the trinitarian manifestation of the Persons…The Persons of the Trinity make one another shine through that glory, mutually and together. They glow into perfect form through one another and awake to perfected beauty in one another.”
In other words, God’s activity in the universe as revealed in God the Creator/Father, God the Son and God the Spirit calls us first to the respecting of gift in the difference of the other and then through this mutuality of respect (love), into the collaborative re-creation of the world through our perichoresis (our circle dance together), which is the glory of God.
In preparing for Respect Justice Camp 2019, the organizational team in the Diocese of Huron hopes that through the immersion experiences available, participants will be brought into the work of growing respect for the other they will meet within the diversity of individuals who will share their work with us, so that ultimately we will recognize that the Divine Spirt of God is moving us all towards that collaborative work for redeeming justice that is God’s life poured out for the world.
4 R.Greenwood, Transforming Priesthood, SPCK, London 1994, p 86.
5 R.Greenwood, The Ministry Team Handbook,
SPCK, London 2000, p 29.