“to BE” FAITH—full
A Present-Day Disciple Engaged in Mission!
From the Desk of the Interim Pastor
“The person who trusts me will not only do what I’m doing but even greater things, because I, on my way to the Father, am giving you the same work to do that I’ve been doing. You can count on it.”
Eugene Peterson, The Message
A pastoral perspective on The Ascension of Our Lord, the 40th day of Easter (Thursday 25 May) which marks the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry which becomes our ministry, as MLC celebrates 40-years of ministry with 4,000 Acts of Service!
There are a lot of peculiar and strange ideas going around on what it means “to BE” a “Christian” – a present-day disciple of Jesus. For some it’s to ‘believe’ certain things, i.e. Jesus is the Son of God or that God is three persons but one God, while for others it’s what you ‘don’t do’ re. smoking or drinking or … (you name the “don’t” with which you grew-up).
Rather, listen to Jesus on what it means “to BE” a “Christian”: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14.6). Jesus doesn’t say you must believe certain principles about him or the Bible. Instead, to understand “who” and “what” God IS and “how” God acts in our world is “through” Jesus – live-ing and participate-ing in God’s LOVE for us by expressing that same LOVE for our neighbor in need of LOVE.
Jesus as “the way” of love finds many expressions. It may unfold in a monastery where a community of Christians devote their entire lives to meditation and prayer for the same people from which they’ve set themselves apart. In urban areas Christians express “the way” of love by fighting poverty or second-rate schools, or “building bridges” among churches and communities for justice advocacy (Think: LIFE – Lee Interfaith For Empowerment!).
While “the way” to which Jesus invites us may have no set form or pattern and may burst into a wild variety of forms and lifestyles, there’s always one constant. To follow in “the way” always involves suffering. The way of love that Jesus chose was that of the “suffering servant” of which the prophet Isaiah spoke and which his disciples had a difficult time understanding – and sometimes we as well! The “way” of Jesus is the way of the cross!
So, what does it mean “to BE” a “Christian”? It’s a person who has accepted Jesus’ invitation to “journey” along the way of love. It’s an openness to the mystery that enfolds us, the mystery we call God, and participating in the way of love as we have seen it in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. It’s that 40-year journey of the baptized sisters-and-brothers known as Messiah Lutheran Church that will lead us to “the truth” and “the life”!
Another way of putting it is a gradual change in the pronouns we use. No longer is the “I” front-and-center, but rather “WE” and “US” – even as Jesus taught us to pray: “OUR” Father; forgive “US” “OUR” sIns; give “US” “OUR” daily bread; lead “US” not into temptation; deliver “US” from evil.
Christians are those people – female and male, young and old – who grow to use ever more naturally the pronouns of suffering love.
The Rev. Gary LaCroix, Interim Pastor