The Followers of Jesus as a new humanity walk with Jesus into a way of being with each other that enters the journey of never lording over another - trying to claim superiority over the other - acting up in such a way that others must be put down in order for us to simply step forward. This new humanity is always one that goes contrary to the perceived guidelines of society and culture when those guides lead us into act of envy, hatred, fear, and all the violence - physical, verbal - we can so easily let fly. The Follower of Jesus as a new humanity is one that will get nailed in a world like ours. We will not be the victors of the world. Victors often overrun the lives of others in order to secure their lives - that is human history. Jesus invites us to speak up - act up - share our lives openly with others - live with and alongside any group that becomes the cast-outs of the day - give up our lives for 'them'. That - is not the history of humankind. It is the vision of a new humanity always at hand.
O God of love and new life, continue to shape us with you love of all. Amen.
The Followers of Jesus as a new humanity takes its cue from the one who hangs from the cross - the one abandoned - the one given up by those most close by - the one insulted - the one who never ceases to forgive. Ouch. That last word is always a tough one - the one who never ceases to forgive!?! It is that forgiveness in the middle of feeling utterly abandoned that we begin to see the shape of he new humanity. It was really on display throughout all the storytelling about Jesus. We simply place more of the focus on that cross - that lynching. It is so dramatic - so intense. And yet, when Jesus simply sat down to eat with folks who were not considered to be acceptable to the culture of the day - he was already fueling the anger of the people who did not want to see the new humanity emerge as real. Many folks simply want to keep that life as something we read in worship or in study again and again. The Followers of Jesus as a new humanity make all the devotional words come to life because that is how this new life can actually be seen - touched - experienced.
O God of love and new life, make us new throughout this week in which we remember the life-giving power of our Lord, Jesus. Amen.
The Followers of Jesus as having eyes wide open is necessary as we enter into the stories of Holy Week and Easter. Yes we have to hear the stories - but we must see them. We must see that all of this Jesus stuff is as real as the stuff we see around us every day. The evil is as real as today's - the deadly, game-playing is the same - the religious and cultural wars and violence is the same. Will we let ourselves see how real this next is within all the weeks of our lives? The Followers of Jesus as having eyes wide open are invited to take heart and be encouraged to look again at all things. Take a look and attempt to see how the forces of the day claim to know what is good and evil and therefore allow for any violence in the world to sport their vision. And yet, we are given eyes to see God's Reign - always peaceable - constantly forgiving - eternally healing - unceasingly willing to die as the life of God's Reign comes into view - even as it is contrary to the wants of the self-proclaimed masters of the knowledge of good and evil
O God of love and new life, we may need you to also tap us and grab our attention or even with eyes wide open, we sure do know how to close them quite readily. Amen.
The Followers of Jesus as having eyes wide open may find themselves in places they have always thought they do not belong. But having eyes wide open to the Reign of God, we have no places in which we do not belong. We enter all spaces and all times with the agenda of God's Reign as the lens through which we will see the world around us. As that happens, we will find that all places need to see a witness of unbounded love made real. Our eyes are open to the possibility that we may be the ones who embody that love - even when it is sacrificial love for the welfare of all. The Followers of Jesus as having eyes wide open see spaces for new life to emerge even when there is no apparent evidence sticking out to greet us. It may even be that our eyes are open so that we will take in that which is not obvious. In that way, we will see oppressive powers and deliberately bring into their presence the liberating love of the Christ. We will see to it.
O God of love and new life, help us see the next step into life that keeps revealing the life of your Reign - anywhere and anytime. Amen.
The Followers of Jesus as having eyes wide open makes us susceptible to seeing through all the clutter of the world around us and finding the way of Jesus always at hand. With that way comes the life we are invited to follow. We will see quite soon how the clutter of the world so easily leads us into the way of violence and war. We are able to see that we fight with each other over that which is just debris - stuff - biases - empty promise - that really only clutters our thinking and our acting. The Followers of Jesus as having eyes wide open soon see that the clutter of the world will never bring peace in our lives or in our hearts. As we become consumed with lives cluttered by the debris of the world, that clutter actually begins to consume our lives. We lose our ability to see the way of truth and peace and justice because we are so business needlessly wasting our time and lives dealing with all the clutter. People have a history of fighting over clutter. Yet, when we can see that it is just clutter and not really the life-giving food of new life, it will be easier to let it go and walk once again in the life Jesus invites us to follow.
O God of love and new life, clear the path before us that we may see your way more clearly. Amen.
The Followers of Jesus as having eyes wide open means we will be part of those who will not let the poor be overlooked - we will not let the undereducated be seen as half-breeds - we will not let those who are labeled as evil and disgusting be the only way they are seen. We will keep our eyes open so that the world our God finds so beloved will be beloved by us in the same way. The Followers of Jesus as having eyes wide open look through the lens of God's creative Reign. Through that lens we are given the opportunity to witness the lies of the powers of this world and then speak up in order that those lies are seen by others. As we approach Holy Week, we will be invited to see how Jesus looked at that which was called sacred and holy but was able to see how its foundation was becoming rotten and he could see the way life needed to change. The Followers of Jesus as having eyes wide open must see the life of the Reign of God and in that seeing also see how the reigning powers of the world fall far short of God's glory. We then must see the pathway from one to the other - often called death and resurrection - and risk to go there.
O God of love and new life, turn us around that we may the vision for life that you hand us the followers of your beloved. Amen.
The Followers of Jesus as having eyes wide open is a position of expectation. We already know that the Reign of God is at hand and yet it still sure looks like hell out there. So we look and look again - we take the chance that all that God has promised is already breaking in and we are invited to be a part of that incoming wonder. I took this phrase from a book we are reading by Jurgen Moltmann. It really resonates with me right now. Part of that has to do with how I can be so self-deceiving. Thinking things are like this and then hearing that others see things like that has a way of reminding me that my own eyes may not the only ones that need to be wide open. For me to be more and more a part of the incoming Reign of God I need the wide open eyes of others - for it is so easy to claim to be able to see and yet still be blind. The Followers of Jesus as having eyes wide open is a call to attentiveness even when it means seeing that which we would rather avoid or simply dismiss. Sometimes, having one's eyes open to new things by those who see the world differently can make us rethink our whole lives. That can be frightening and also quite liberating.
O God of love and new life, open up our eyes to the glory of your Reign that is at had and awaiting our participation in that glory. Amen.
The Followers of Jesus as stepping into it have to do it - take the step. We first have to know the life of the one we follow - know the character of the life - know how to translate that life into the steps of our lives. Yes, we live in quite a different world than back then, but we also are still human beings invited into the way of life of the one some call the 'truly human one' - Jesus.
The Followers of Jesus as stepping into it always need help to make sure they are not stepping into a lie - or a false interpretation of the way of Jesus. It is easy to fool ourselves into following another way. Therefore, the others who claim to be Followers of Jesus are needed to say "wait" or "hold on" or "that is not at all how Jesus steps."
O God of love and new life, lead us into the character of your beloved Son. Amen.
The Followers of Jesus as stepping into it takes us from a verbal profession of faith into a living confession of faith. That is, putting to life our trust in this Jesus, as the Lord of Life. The Followers of Jesus as stepping into it simply take the Good News of the Reign of God in Christ, Jesus, to heart and then into our lives - our daily steps among God's beloved people in every place and time. We all know some of the basic steps. We have read the stories of the steps Jesus took in his life - steps taken at great risk and cost - steps that helped embody how humanity can live within the loving Reign of God in a world that does not want to go there. The Followers of Jesus as stepping into it now are empowered to take those same steps using our feet and our lives to make sure the world around us will see a living witness of God's love and grace and mercy making its way to places as real as the day that will unfold before us today.
O God of love and new life, when we sing 'just a closer walk with thee,' it is a plea. It is the life that we know brings life to the world. Fill us with that life - that love. Amen.
The Followers of Jesus as stepping into it is to be a people who are stepping out of so many of the opinions and rules-of-the-day. The followers of Jesus as stepping into it have a history of walking alongside the folks who our culture was trying to push out and push over. That is a history that must not stop because of the wants and desires of the day. The poor must always see us stepping into walk with them even when they are getting blamed for ills of society. The GLBT community must always see us stepping into walk with them so that they are not singled out and told to be hidden because the are not fit to be with us. Rather, we step into be with them. The followers of Jesus as stepping into it must not let the color of a person skin or their religious beliefs ever become a reason not to risk our lives for their well being. We step in so that the world around us may see that among us there will be no us and them. We will be Jesus alive here and now even when we know the cost of being in step with Jesus.
O God of love and new life, be the rock upon which we push off into the life of your beloved Jesus. Amen.
The Followers of Jesus as stepping into it is another way of saying our presence may not be appreciated. We may bring into the room that which is too common - too ordinary - too earthy. In a world likes things to be 'sanitized for your protection' the followers of Jesus may carry into conversations and actions the underside of life. The Followers of Jesus as stepping into it will go anyplace and be with anyone. That can get to be messy - dirty - and a reason to be rejected. And yet, if Jesus has been there and done that, we will step into that way also. Remember, that as we step into the way of Jesus, we may bring the aroma of fresh, new life to those around us. This my be appreciated and it may be rejected. We simply keep stepping into it.
O God of love and new life, be the ground beneath us as we move along the way of our Lord, Jesus. When we are unsure of the next steps in our lives, be for us that blessed assurance that creates new life. Amen.
The Followers of Jesus as stepping into it is the way that we need to translate believing. Like any movement, the folks who say they are followers of the movement need to move - need to step in line - need to be ones who go along with the one we say we follow. This may help us get out of the rut of having faithfulness be a simple mind game - an intellectual exercise - a verbal affirmation that has no life behind it. The Followers of Jesus as stepping into it hear and see the life of Jesus and the power of that life in those old, old stories and we lean into that power. The leaning moves us along to take steps otherwise we will fall over - like a toddler whose head moves forward faster than the rest of her/his body. There is something about 'follow me' that says get up and 'follow me.' In the meantime, I know that we all need time to understand what it will mean to step into the way of Jesus within our own lives. I think that is the work of the local gathering of the followers of Jesus - helping one another step into it in the shape of our own lives.
O God of love and new life, as we begin to lean, we need the power of your Spirit of Life to bring us to move into the life of your Reign. Amen.
The Followers of Jesus as holy places has a draw. It is much like calling the people of God a light to the world. People move toward such things. The expectation of a holy place is that we might come to such a place and understand or experience the fullness of God that is able to heal all things. That means that we are out in the world as ones who embody the life that is expected to bring about a whole new world. Isn't that what holy places do? Isn't that why folks go to synagogue, temple, church, mosque? We want to be a part of that which is holy - a life. The Followers of Jesus as holy places mimics Jesus in the sense that Jesus becomes for us the complete unveiling of God right in front of us - right in our homes - right in our everyday lives. When a holy place is unhinged from a geographical location and becomes alive and moves within the patterns of ordinary people, a new world will be present. It may not be welcomed - but it will make itself known.
O God of love and new life, fill us with your life. Amen.