Dear Friends in Christ,
I wish I could say that we are living in unprecedented times, but we are not. Nevertheless, we are living in a time when we have a tremendous opportunity to bear witness to the grace and forgiveness of Christ in the world, so that we increasingly become agents of mercy and healing, rather than prophets of prejudice.
Today is the final session of the “Sayings and Teachings of Jesus,” and I had set aside this session to unpack the indivisibility of “Law” and “Faith” in the teachings of Christ, recognizing that the person Jesus Christ is our Faith and the fulfillment of the Law. This will remain an overarching theme for our discussion today, Wednesday, June 3, at 12PM; however, we will make room for dialogue regarding our struggle as followers of Jesus to hold these together, as it relates to hate and racial violence in the world.
The hard reality is that Jesus and politics are inseparable, as much as we are inclined to divide these for our own comfort. To separate the two, however, is to make Jesus out to be my own personal god, rather than the God who is—the God who became Incarnate, the One who is all and is in all. The Body of Christ is a political body, and while our politics will always run counter to the cultural norms of the world we remain, as a people of faith, citizens of a kingdom that has come in Christ, that is coming even now, a kingdom that will come and make all things new.
How we live in the world, yet of the politics of God’s Kingdom, will always require deep discernment for those of us who bear the Name of Christ. More often than not, in ways that we cannot always see coming, we will be faced with the age old question of the Gospel: “Who do you say that I am?” If we say with Peter, “You are the Christ, Son of the Living God,” we must remember that this confession comes from God and not from humans, and that to say Jesus is God is simultaneously an anthropological claim. For if Jesus is God, and if God in Christ has really become human, then to be human—to be a person—is to inhabit this world as Christ’s Body with my neighbor—with the whole human community in all its diversity and wondrous color. If I refuse my neighbor, and if I blindly claim that my hands are unstained by the sins of humanity, I, with Peter, deny the power of the cross as Jesus says to me, as he said to Peter, “Get behind me Satan.”
I know the power of the Crucifixion when I confess that I have, with Peter and the disciples, denied Christ and rejected the way of the cross. For when I openly acknowledge that I am a crucifier and sinner it is then that I can know myself as forgiven and redeemed by the cry of Christ from the cross: “Father, forgiven them for they know not what they do.” Only then am I opened to the mercy and grace of God that transcends and transforms the world to fit the will of God. Only then do I know as I am known by God in Christ. And only then am I able to love my neighbor as myself, not passively, but preemptively striving for my neighbor’s well-being before my own.
I invite you, therefore, to join the conversation today at 12PM. If this is not a good time for you, which is completely understandable, please know that we are beginning new conversations to discern how we will be the Church, how we will be the Body of Christ, his Polis, here in St. Michael’s, especially as it relates to our welcome and love toward those who may not share our skin color, ethnicity, or other socially constructed divisions of the world.
We will begin soon reading the book, “The New Jim Crow.” We will do so together, and I invite you to join the conversation. Some of these will be offered as physically distanced, in person conversations, when possible. And we will have some online for those who need to remain distant. I hope you will join the conversation. Above all, I hope you will continue to pray for our church, pray for our country, pray for all who suffer injustices of any kind, and especially for those who suffer the systemic injustices of our nation. Let us be agents of change and greet those who do not look like us as if greeting the Lord of Glory, for this is the call of Christ. I dare you, as your priest, so to do, and I await the glorious opportunities that unfold for us as a community as we seek the face of Christ in our neighbors.
Join the Conversation: www.stmikesgeneseo.org/jesus
The Peace of Christ be with you,