Sunday, August 23 2020
In Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus asks his disciples, “But who do YOU say that I am?"
So, I ask, “Who is Jesus for YOU?”
We come together each week – unique individuals – and we become the church. Just as St. Paul told us in Romans, “For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another.” How can we be the church Jesus had in mind? What does it demand of us?
Christians are called to follow Jesus, just like the disciples. Where are each of you on that path? Are you still on it? Have you veered off in a different direction? What does following Jesus look like? What would you say if someone asked you why you are on the Christian path? Do you have your elevator story ready?
Who do you say that I am? To answer this question, we need to be in relationship with Jesus – we need to find room in our hearts – allowing him to dwell there and then we need to listen. Many of us are using Facebook and other forms of social media in the hopes of making more friends and learning more about each other. But I maintain that we really need to be in personal relationships, where, in real time, we can have conversations that demand give and take. To listen. Our zoom morning prayer group has developed a deeper intimacy and trust with each other…enabling us all to grow. We also need to enter into a lifelong conversation with God – which is what prayer is all about, to immerse ourselves and inwardly digest the holy scriptures, and to attend Bible studies where together, we can further clarify our understanding of who Jesus is. This is how we begin to answer that “who” question.
The Church is made of individuals. We are made stronger, however, in coming together to support each other, to learn from each other, to challenge each other and then, collectively, with the help of the God and the Holy Spirit, to go out into the world and be Jesus’ voice, hands, feet to our hurting world.
We often hear criticisms of today’s church – our numbers are declining. We are no longer relevant. Our world is bursting with individualism – “I can find fulfillment by following my own path.” Religion is relegated to our own private sphere of personal values. People say, “I am not religious, I am spiritual.” We have become more isolated, fragmented, and polarized. We hide behind social media and voice our extreme positions when it comes to religion, politics, race, or our environment and then avoid considering the responses. We are not willing to engage in meaningful and heartfelt conversations with each other, where listening may be more important than speaking.
But, people of St. Johns, we are the Church. God is a living God, not frozen in the past. God doesn’t just exist in the memories of the good old days or the way things used to be. How is this living God moving and working in our world today?
On this rock – we shall not build a nation where millions of children are homeless and hungry. On this rock – we shall not build churches (communities of faith) that oppress the poor and women. On this rock – we shall not turn a blind eye to the racial injustices and violence towards our black brothers and sisters. Thank God that Paul reminds us that, “We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness.” (Romans 12:6-8) What we each do on earth matters.
We are a strong church – when God’s heart becomes one with our own. To be Christlike, we must know Christ. We need to come together to recharge and then go back out into the world to be Christ in every encounter we have. As we widen our circle, all are enriched. I dare say, “We are NOT irrelevant.”
In Christ’s Love,
Claire Mis, Seminarian