A Christmas Message From Bishop Todd Hunter
This Christmas I pause to thank God that we are together in a learning community and on a vital journey of ministry development through the Telos Collective. I never grow tired of thinking about the church between Gospel and culture. More than ever, I am spiritually and intellectually stimulated by it. And it is great to be with friends like you along the way!
I thought to write this Christmas greeting because while drifting off to sleep last night, thinking of you and our work, I began to consider how much of the Christmas story itself lies between gospel and culture. God was surely up to something (gospel—the inbreaking of the kingdom in the incarnation of Jesus). There were plenty of cultures in the context in which Jesus came: Roman, Jewish sects, shepherds, Magi, etc. This situatedness has always been the missional challenge. The gospel only comes within a context. Jesus only came within a context. This has, and always will, raise questions, concerns and the need for spiritual discernment.
With the exquisite discernment shown in the Magnificat, Mary gets it. She sees the implications. She knows a major pivot is coming that will shape the future of humanity. She sees…
…that new mercy is arising…that the powerful arm of God is being made manifest…that this Divine action of incarnation will be experienced one way by proud rulers, but in a dramatically different way by the humble. Mary senses that what is happening to her and Elizabeth is somehow tied up with the climax of the story of Israel, of Abraham and all his descendants…
It is within this story that we now follow Jesus and do our ministry. And this story is no better understood by the masses today than it was in Mary’s day. This story still has its Herod-like antagonists. That reality is why the Telos Collective exists. I have longed for a community of colleagues with which to wrestle with the complex questions about what God is trying to birth though the church in the early part of the 21st century.
This Christmas, your friendship and your labor of love at the intersection of gospel and culture is a source of joy for me. For this, I both give thanks and dedicate myself in the year to come to join Mary—and you—in teasing out the implications of:
What Child is this? How are we to respond to This Child ourselves and for the sake of others? What does it mean to lead a church into the tussle implied by the Magnificat? What do I need to learn? What must change in me and in those I lead?
Bishop Todd Hunter is the founder and leader of The Telos Collective. In this role, he works alongside Archbishop Beach and other ACNA bishops and leaders to catalyze sacramental and missional churches to engage contemporary North American culture. He is also the founding bishop of The Diocese of Churches for the Sake of Others, a diocese of the Anglican Church in North America. He is founding pastor of Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Costa Mesa, California. Bishop Hunter is past President of Alpha USA, former National Director for the Association of Vineyard Churches. He is the author of Christianity Beyond Belief: Following Jesus for the Sake of Others, Giving Church Another Chance, The Outsider Interviews, The Accidental Anglican and Our Favorite Sins and Our Character at Work.