Friday, November 4, 2011

Walking well

When I served in the far north, the kids of the community used to point at me and say to each other, “Look, there goes Jesu Krist! (Jesus Christ)” the first couple times that I heard this I was puzzled but said nothing. After hearing this a few times I went to an elder and asked why the children were calling me by the name of Jesus. She smiled widely and said, “oh, that’s because they know how Jesus walks – he walks like you do.” It is a lesson I have had to learn well in the years that have followed.

We tend to think of saints as those who are up in stain glass windows. They are well above us, to be revered by us. They are shown to us that they might be an example to us. Who aspired to be a saint last week? Who got dressed up like John the Baptiser or Elijah or even Jonah for Halloween? After all they are dead and there is nothing remarkable about that for the world to imitate – it’s not scary, not gross or something (or someone) to be feared. In fact it is seen as boring and dead by most in the world today.
What makes the world afraid is the person living out his and her life in faith, devoted to be a person who will live the upside down values of the kingdom in spite of everything the world has to throw at them.

And that is what makes us a part of the “blessed” community: the Church is a group of people that know the world is upside down and that is going to be righted by the blessings and by the transforming love of God. We are the makairos (the happy ones) who are happy and blessed and joyful not because of what is going on in the world but because they are in relationship and sustained through everything by God.   The makairos are the people who live out the values of the kingdom moving through all the things that confront them in this world: poverty, grief and mourning, hunger and thirst, meekness and war, tribulations and even personal persecutions as they walk into the blessing and care of God. And just how are the happy ones going to manage that? Because they know that God is living and active in this moment has God will be in eternity. They are living now something of what is to come and of what God has promised to them. The Christian faith is not about getting out of this world into a better one. It is about helping God to transform this one into the world that it was meant to be when it was created by God. 

And that brings us to a simple challenge: how do we walk? Do we walk in such a way as to make it known that the kingdom of heaven, that the kingdom of God has come near to this city? I know that early in my ordained ministry, I waited for some amazing moment when I would suddenly this great and awesome priest and I would know everything and start doing everything right... and then after a few weeks I realized that what mattered was not what I knew but rather how I walked. People could see me and how I walked and for them – that was how Jesus walked. So as a consequence, I have started concentrating on making sure I walk well so that others can imitate me and so follow Christ. And this kind of behaviour is not for the ordained person solely, but for every member of the Body of Christ. No one is to wait for a perceived holiness or blessing – we become as we walk, having been blessed by God in the past, are being blessed in this moment and look forward with hope to how we will be blessed  in the future.

And let us remember that there is no greater way to transform this world than by others seeing that we are willing and ready to lay down our lives for them. As Jesus said, ``No greater love has anyone than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.`` (John 15.13)  Come, follow me as we follow the Christ together, in his strength and in his love for the sake of his name. 

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