Preaching tonight in the College Chapel at Jesus College in Oxford, Canon Mark Soady reminded the congregation that the Lewis Chapel (named after the College’s First Principal) was the scene of two great events last July. At the beginning of the month, in the presence of HRH The Prince of Wales, a new Jesse window was dedicated as a complimentary addition to te world famous Jesse Figure, and later that month the College Principal unveiled a plaque to commemorate his predecessor.
Jesus College Chapel
Fr Mark continued:
“At the centre of the window is the Blessed Virgin Mary holding her Son / the Son of God, and below her are the son of Jesse, David, and his son, Solomon.
Although my subject title tonight is conceived by the Holy Spirit, I am going to take the liberty of adding the next clause of the Creed: and born of the Virgin Mary, for I believe the true wonder is, that God was prepared to become human – and to fully understand that we need to see and hear the human element. It was into a human being that he was conceived by the Holy Spirit. The Jesse tree – the earthly family tree of Jesus – has for nearly 500 years been a tangible reminder of the Incarnation to all who visit the burial site of your first principal in the Chapel that bears his name at St Mary’s Priory.
Our faith alone, tells of a God who is so loving that he is willing to take on human form for us. He was prepared to be born as a baby to a single mum and become himself a refugee, and do al that for you and for me.
So if we are called to be like Jesus, to be like the Son of God, how can we Christians be ‘incarnate’ in the world today? Professor John Macquarrie says the Church needs to be an ‘extension of the incarnation’. That I suggest is the challenge for us!
In the Gospels’ account of the call of the disciples we read how Jesus encountered them in the ordinariness of their every day lives. The encounter did not take place in the synagogue or the temple but out there in the world. Perhaps we as Christians today keep our faith compartmentalised a little to much in to Sundays and in church buildings, rather than being like Jesus and going out and getting our hands dirty. For each of us getting out there, doing the normal things may be different. Here it is being among the college body , back in Abergavenny it is being in and among the town’s people.”
Having given examples of how the church may be incarnate, he concluded:
“I pray that we may be empowered to go forth and be incarnate in the world….our world.”