Since the inauguration of President of President Trump the energy in social media has been heavy to say the least. I appreciate and understand the call for Clergy to step into their prophetic voices to encourage and empower the church to rise up and speak to the blatant lies and injustice to humanity that are spewing out of the White House. However, I find myself bombarded by the constant stream of tweets, Facebook messages and Facebook posts where integral voices are courageously calling fellow clergy to action. The winds of change are blowing as the shadows that seethed quietly for decades beneath starched collars and backward baseball caps are being exposed in misogynist rhetoric and alternative facts. I have been sitting in the following question that many respected colleagues of diverse faith traditions have posed on social media: “What does it mean to be a Christian?”
“What does it mean to follow the ways of Christ?”
And, “What does living into the ways of Christ look like in our present culture?” Compassion, love, peace, justice, mercy, kindness…yes. But sometimes love says “no” because of love and sometimes justice says “no” and “enough” and sometimes peace marches, lies down, or persistently proclaims what is stopping peace. Sometimes compassion makes the hard call and reveals the shadowy monster living within so one may be healed. Sometimes kindness has to shake the dust off and change her itinerary in order to be effective. And sometimes mercy needs to let another learn a lesson the hard way so they may truly learn and be transformed.
I wonder what Jesus felt like after he was tempted in the desert and then filled with the Holy Spirit who called him to return to a place that had rejected him and preach in the synagogue? When he stood up to read, did he know what scroll the Spirit wanted him to proclaim? As he trusted God and unrolled the scroll to see the words of the Prophet Isaiah did he think, “Oh please, I think something lighter for my first sermon might be better received?”
No. He was grounded in the winds of the Holy Spirit within Him. Grounded in the Breath of God. Hum…
Jesus opened the scroll and read, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me.” Was he afraid to speak this to the Temple Leaders or did he take a deep breath before he spoke out loud, realizing that God was confirming – ordaining Him for ministry?
Whatever Jesus felt, it is obvious that he was aware of who God is and who he was in God as he read the entire passage with confidence that empowered him to sit down when he was done. He did not look around or wait for reactions from the listeners, he simply sat down with all eyes fixed on him.
Jesus read: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
And after he sat down and looked at the eyes fixed upon him, and I am sure a few mouths were wide open, he said, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”
Jesus understood what God had called him to do and be in his ministry and he was completely abandoned – surrendered to God’s on his life no matter what the church or others thought.
I believe I know what it means to be a Christian and I can see clearly why I am the minister of Living Spirit United Church. We are not alone. Release and recovery is on its way. I am grounded and ready.How about you?