Constantine and Empire
The advent of Constantine as Emperor in 306 marked a key moment in the Gospel of Jesus Christ becoming a public faith. Up until that point Christians had endured a challenging journey – periods of peace and proselytising interspersed with the most horrific persecution. A world of political instability and religious terrorism.
Constantine laid the foundation of what came to be known as the Holy Roman Empire. The Church became a public body offering a Gospel of love to bind together the different cultures of what was thought to be the civilised world. A Holy or whole Empire.
The Importance of Coins: Cash Flow
As in every age, money was the sacrament of seriousness. Money provided the means for people to organise their lives and express their priorities. Money was produced in the form of coins. One of the ways in which Constantine connected his disparate peoples was through the use of money – the flow of ‘cash’.
First, during his reign, the images on the coins shifted from pagan symbols to signs of the cross and of the Christian faith. The means of organising life and ordering priorities was clearly part of a Christian enterprise – an expression of the love of God in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Second, Constantine enabled significant investment in the Church, providing buildings and ministries to express this Gospel of love in practical ways. The beginning of an infrastructure for a Holy Empire. Word made flesh.
Cashing the Gospel
We are heirs of these significant developments, called still to witness to the organising of life and the ordering of priorities as an expression of the teaching and example of Jesus Christ – in public life as much as in private pilgrimages.
Coins, or, in our case credit cards and notes! have a part to play in this mission and witness. Money provides the most accurate sign of how we choose to organise our lives and our priorities.
Cashing the Common Life
As we launch a new Common Fund this autumn, I hope that each of us can consider carefully and prayerfully how, in our times, we can contribute to our church offering spaces for worship and ministries for witness. Each of us will have coins, cards, notes in our lives. A key part of our witness is how we might use them to enable the Gospel of love to be made more manifest – as witness, invitation and celebration of that kind of gift of new life which Our Father longs to pour out for the blessings of all His children.
The Currency of Love
Money is something common, connecting and challenging. Too easily it becomes the ultimate measure and value: a false god. We need to use it as a form of service and fellowship – the currency of love.