JULY 29, 2020 – WEDNESDAY
I am now rejoicing in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am completing what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church. — Colossians 1:24
Dear Church Family,
Paul is saying things hard for us to understand. How can we rejoice in suffering – completing for the sake his Body – the Church – us? Is the suffering so many of experience in these days — what Paul could be talking about?
When Jesus left this world bodily – he left with his disciples, and thus with us – the work of first welcoming God’s kingdom within, before trying to create it on earth. God’s kingdom doesn’t operate from power that governments, world leaders, people of “significance” command. Christians are not immune from the allure of such power. The gospel says to bridge these worlds, we start from the side of powerlessness – Jesus. To begin on the other side, we’re more likely to stay there. Jesus redefines the meaning of “power.” Seek first his kingdom and God’s values if you wish to be a bridge-builder to cross the division. People who are grounded only in the world’s definitions of power cannot understand. Remember the “world’s” observation of the early Christian communities — “how they love one another.” It appears that many Christians today follow more closely the world’s power, politically and personally, and give lip service to the values of God’s kingdom. Those who begin from the world’s view of power have difficulty getting to the middle – to live in the world, yet not of the world. They are unable to trust the side of powerlessness, the cross of Jesus, as the starting point. That’s where conversion begins — and perhaps why Jesus embraces and lifts up some of the least powerful — children.
When I directed a project on the Northern Neck, Church Resource Services, to begin creating cooperation among churches – wealthy and poor, black and white, we created a “Bridge Building Project.” Churches came together, in seven regions of our two counties on different evenings. Lay and clergy leadership sat together, talked about their church – what is working, what’s not – people began to listen, share frustrations and hopes. People listened — not only to others, but their own church members. They got to know each other – challenges and successes, we all share – hopes for our children, the future, what together could make us stronger and better Christians. We are much more alike than different. We began with “Jesus values” — and then started building bridges that change understanding and communities – not from top down, but at the grassroots up. Beginning in God’s kingdom is a catalyst and power of love, compassion, gratitude — the world most needs — in these days of disease and division. Sometimes it’s easy to be so consumed by our personal fears and desires, we miss living in the world, grounded first in God’s kingdom. We forget the world where God wins, regardless of how it looks in the moment.Blessings, and God’s peace and grace, the power we choose first, Fr. Steve