We continue with Part Seven, the finale of, “Through The Cross To The New Creation, The Church In Action”, written by May Tripp, founder of Animal Christian Concern, or ACC.  If you have not read the previous posts you can find them here:  Parts OneTwo Three Four Five, Six This article is included in the book, “Animal Welfare:  Through The Cross, A Collection Of Animal Christian Concern Articles” by Roslyne Smith, and can be purchased here.  For those who would like to read the entire article:  THROUGH-THE-CROSS Article 10

Jan van Kessel
Wikimedia Commons

I have tried in this talk to show how we, as Christians, share in the strivings and sufferings of secular animal welfarists, the sufferings of the Cross. Especially I want to say how we in our work are dependent not upon our own strengths – which are frail – but upon God, by the strength of His Holy Spirit. This strength we always have, however imperfect we are. As St. Paul said to the Corinthians, “There is nothing in us that allows us to claim that we are capable of doing this work. The capacity we have comes from God; it is He who made us capable of serving the new covenant, which consists not of a written law but of the Spirit”. (2 Corinthians 3 v 4-6).

I have spoken of transformations, of promptings from God and these are blessings to be treasured. The most significant one for me was in 1987, two years after ACC had been formed. It was one Christmas, on “Boxing” night, when jaded from commercialism and even from the glitter of church services, I fell asleep pondering on the true meaning of Christmas. It seemed that I was immediately given a picture of a task. Before me lay the body of the crucified Christ Jesus, traditionally naked except for a loincloth, His face turned away from me, and I knew that I had to place His body back upon the Cross. In the background a non-Christian ceremony was taking place and I felt an increased urgency for my task; a sort of conflict was present. I looked for the Cross, but before me was not a cross but a thorn hedge, and the thorns were not thorns but metal spikes and rods. I thought that I should never be able to lift the body of Christ but I tried, and from behind me came a shadowy figure whom I never saw and who helped me to lift Him. I scrambled up the hedge, holding Christ, who was dead but warm and vibrant. In the strange way that happens in dreams my practical consciousness was thinking: “I could be hurt on these spikes and I don’t want that.” I hastily fastened Christ on to one of them and climbed down quickly. I awoke briefly, overawed and still feeling the blessing and warmth of Christ. The picture changed and I stood looking through a latticed window preparing, with much pride, to show a very dear friend the body of Christ which I had placed on His Cross. We looked. The hedge was empty. I awoke with a shock, betrayed, thinking that my task had all been a dreadful mistake. Not until later did I realise that my heart had needed to “crucify” the Lord of Creation and then allow Him to rise. And that the wood which makes the manger is of the same wood which makes the Cross. So, too, I learned that in pro­claiming Christ crucified it simply is not possible to avoid the pain of the thorns.

I make no extravagant claim for this dream, which may well have been the result of my own ponderings. But the singular thing about it was that, almost imperceptibly, it had changed me. Gone were my previous multi-faith ideas, my reluctance to accept the need of the Cross, my uncertainties. When reading the Bible I began to recognise the ONLY Son of God, Christ Jesus crucified, risen, ascended and awaited. Gone too was any timidity about our cause for animals. My convictions were strengthened and I saw with a new clarity how God’s love for His whole creation had been there from the very beginning, as had been our responsibilities of caring for His creatures. I recognised that His natural creation now awaits His coming and the fulfilment of Redemption, just as we do.

Sadly, I also saw that most of His Church is not proclaiming this, and that its failure to do so is undermining not only our work on behalf of animals but the very fabric of our Christian faith. It is the whole Truth of the Gospel which is increasingly under threat.

Painting by Hogarth
‘The Sleeping Church’

So I end by calling upon the Church to preach the WHOLE Gospel to the WHOLE creation. Only thus will we Christians fully honour our Lord and fully accept our responsibilities for all of His creatures. Then, as in the old Christmas carol, we shall know the way of the CROSS to the NEW CREATION.

“Trace we the Babe who hath retrieved our loss,
From the poor manger to the bitter Cross;
Tread in His steps, assisted by His grace,
Till man’s (creation’s) first heavenly state again takes place.”
“Christians Awake, Salute The Happy Morn.”

With love and prayers,
May Trip


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