We have asked all the nominees for moderator four questions so that we, as a church, could get to know them a little better. Here are the responses for Rev. Jeff Cook. If you would like to know more about Jeff, please read his profile from the General Council 41 website.
1) “Cruxifusion” means “united by the cross.” What does Jesus’ death on the cross and his resurrection mean to you?
Jesus’ death and resurrection cannot be isolated from his life. In a world of kingdoms, Jesus spoke of an alternative kingdom – the kingdom of God. He not only spoke of it. He embodied it. Jesus’ teachings and actions revealed God’s dream. Jesus said we are to forgive – even, perhaps especially, our enemies, those with whom we find ourselves in conflict. Jesus shared meals with people of diverse views, economic standing and life experiences; he said you can’t tell who is blessed by their title, or income or influence. Jesus told stories that would have left people thinking about the nature of this alternative kingdom. He had time for the beggars, for those no one else seemed to have time for. He said that only those who learned to view the world as the children – the most vulnerable and powerless in his society – would understand how God viewed the world. He said that if his system worked the way the dominant system worked, his followers would have come with swords to try and free him.
Those in power realized that their kingdom and this kingdom Jesus inhabited, could not co-exist, so they executed him. His death on the cross means that the way of Christ, the dream of God, are radically different. The cross represents the way of violence, and thus reveals the non-violent nature of God. The cross becomes a symbol of the choice we must make between alternative kingdoms. The resurrection of Jesus means that death did not end God’s presence in Jesus. Jesus remains our companion. Resurrection is God’s ‘amen’ to the life of Jesus.
2) Describe the God you worship.
A God who says the poor are blessed, who requires that we love mercy and seek justice, a God of healing and hope, a God who breaks a loaf of bread and shares it and a God who does not ask that others kneel in their presence, but who instead kneels to wash the feet of those others.
3) Which Christian author has had the greatest impact on you?
There are so many, that I can’t say who has had the greatest impact, but if given only once choice I would say Walter Brueggemann.
4) What gifts and passions do you have that you believe the United Church of Canada needs today?
I think I offer the ability to creatively engage with scripture and with life, I am reflective and seek God’s guidance . I have a good sense of humour, and believe that God is up to something transformative with the church today.