Wednesday Word: Stay and Go
"To be sent as Jesus was sent is to be part of that community of learners and at the same time to do life-giving signs. And the signs are not just for his own community, they are about abundant life for all -- whoever was at the wedding, whoever turned up as part of the five thousand needing food." David F. Ford, Who is Jesus Now? Maxims and Surprises, Anglican Theological Review, Vol. 101, Number 2, pp. 222-223.
This article by David Ford, in his own words, attempts to "articulate seven maxims in answer to the question, Who is Jesus now?" As you would imagine, there's a lot packed into his article, so maybe it was because we've had several Sundays where the gospel reading has come from John that I found it particularly timely. Especially since we are dealing every day with the fallout from COVID.
We are followers of Christ. We are part of a community of learners. The disciples learned from following Jesus as he walked hither and yon, having conversations with men and women, Jews and Gentiles, Pharisees and Samaritans. They saw him perform miracles and signs not only for them, his disciples, but for those outside that community. The wine at Cana wasn't only for the disciples, but for all the guests. The loaves and fish were not only meant to be shared among the disciples, but with everybody gathered together in that place.
One of the things we are grappling with during this COVID pandemic is how to be a community that offers abundant life for all. We are trying to maintain our community as best we can during these times, everything from online services (which have continually improved) to thinking about various small groups and studies to virtual coffee hours. And, of course, finances are bound to come up in any of these discussions with the concern that, as people's income dwindles so too will our donations. And we wonder how that will impact us.
But we also must consider the wider community. How can we, as followers of Christ, as a prominent church in Hagerstown, as a Christian community in a particular area of Hagerstown with a surrounding population in need, proclaim and live a message of abundant life for all? Now more than ever we must not become so inwardly focused that we are of no outwardly good.
Christ appeared in difficult times, and it is in these difficult times today where we must reflect the image of Christ not only to our own community but to those around us. We have work to do with each other, and this is where we shall stay. But we also have work to do with the 5000 who are desperately looking for the face of God, and this is where we must go.