Easter 6: Promise of the Spirit, Sun 21 May 2017 -Vicar’s Reflection
A Bill passed in Parliament on Wednesday 15 March 2017 has recognised the Whanganui River as “its own legal identity with all the corresponding rights, duties and liabilities of a legal person… It recognised the river as an indivisible and living whole from the mountains to the sea.” (http://www.stuff.co.nz) . This is believed to be the first time in the world that a natural feature like a river has ever been legally recognised in this way. It is not however unusual for entities other than human beings to be recognised in law as persons. A firm, company, monastery, religious order, body corporate, sovereign state and many other entities can have personhood under the law. This is a very ancient idea going back to Roman times and first recognised in Canon Law by Pope Innocent IV (1195-1254) who used the concept to enable monastic orders to own property and to carry out commerce even though individual members had taken vows of poverty. It is a concept that recognises that personhood can extend beyond individuals. Sports teams have distinctive personalities. Just think of the difference between the ‘team spirit’ of the All Blacks vs the team spirit of the Warriors. Quite different! God’s Holy Spirit is promised by Jesus in John 14:16. God’s Spirit transcends individuals, infuses the church with a hunger for truth, justice, mercy; bestows gifts and graces and transforms individual Christians around the world into the indivisible and living Body of Christ.