Jesus’ coming in Advent is not only his coming as an infant in Bethlehem, nor only his coming as our judge at the end of time. It is also his coming to the depths of death and judgment: his presence in hell which grants it its truest, realest existence while at the same time undoing its sting with infinite mercy. Jesus’ presence in hell is the paradoxical symbol of justice that promises us the fullness of mercy and the fullness of judgment of God.
But what if heaven is not primarily a place of peace, but instead a community, created by communal participation in the divine life? Such a conception of heaven allows us to begin to imagine it as a place of communal accountability — a place where all can be welcome only because all are responsible to one another: a place of justice.
Judgment is not a topic the church often wants to contemplate, but it is not one we can avoid. How can we understand the dialectic of God’s judgment and mercy at the final coming of Christ so that divine judgment — and not just the hope of avoiding it — is for us something to be desired, not just feared?
We may still be attracted to the holy, but disbelief permeates our faith in God because it’s what we “breathe in our times.” Therefore, it’s becoming harder – even for Christians – to view God as believable in today’s age.
So why should anyone join our troubled Anglican Church in all her present disarray? If we truly love the Lord we will love his Body, and true love always contains within it the patience to endure long-suffering.
Whatever happens in one part of the Anglican Communion, will have an impact on the whole Communion. The preservation of the historic teaching on an important doctrine and the defiant response to it will no doubt send a confusing message to the Communion. The Canadian Church has yet to find a way of preserving that teaching in an ordered way and still extending a pastoral heart to those who struggle. Such is the reality of God’s mission in the world.