The Followers of Jesus as not good people is a way of helping us to see others as not bad or good either. They are beloved by God. Yes, even the enemies who it is easy to demonize and seems to fit all of our acts of demonization. The moment we see ourselves as good - over and against their bad - there are not many avenues open for discussion, reconciliation, or peace. We are good - they are bad. Having said that, what happens when all my life I have been called bad - no good - worth-less? As soon as we get into labeling the good v bad antics of human existence, we start to show how brutal and evil humanity can become. The Followers of Jesus as not good people keep opening doors so that the good and the bad and all the others who are strapped with labels can find a place - a community - they can call home. This home is meant to be the church - a place where people are not good - they are beloved and they love without end.
O God of love and new life, ease us into the reality of your loving grace that we may embody such a character. Amen.
The Followers of Jesus as not good people need not mean we are bad people. Religious people can be quite nasty - we have too many examples from people of many religious backgrounds. I really think we move into problem areas whenever we self-define or self-describe ourselves as good. That is why I would defer to one of my overused words - beloved. We are beloved people. That is not a designation we give to ourselves. It is one handed to us - announced to us. It is a designation that calls forth a life. It is not a designation based on what we have done or what we have not done. It is the reality of God's love and is the power for new life. The followers of Jesus as not good people are always in a state of wonder - wondering about the life that will become ours and the life that displays the character of God's Reign.
O God of love and new life, grant us the wisdom to hear how your words of love become the substance of lives you call forth as you name us. Amen.
The Followers of Jesus as not good people is simply a way of reminding ourselves not to even go about making that judgment. Once we deem we are good it is so easy to make others as not as good - not good at all - damn wrong. Therefore, we enter this day within the vision of life within God's Reign - otherwise known as eternal life. We live into that vision - all of us. Along the way, we all stumble and we are reminded of how the vision is 'out there' and we are invited to step into it as it comes into the present. If we are even tempted to call ourselves good people it may be simply because the goodness of God's Reign is always reaching into today from God's future - always inviting us - all of us without limit.
O God of love and new life, be present with us. Amen.
The Followers of Jesus as not good people may not sound right. It is the first time I have used a negative to describe the followers of Jesus. It is quite intentional. As far as I can see, good people - especially those who think they are good people - are those who have the least amount of tolerance for those others who do not fit into the mold of the self-described good people. I will go farther than that. It is often good people who become the ones that condemn others. The folks around Jesus who persuaded Pilate to execute Jesus were 'good' people. Not only did they think that about themselves, they were known to be the good religious people - the pious - the holy. The followers of Jesus as not good people make us all reconsider what good means. Just as Jesus did not want to be called good teacher, so too might we learn that we are not good. We are followers of the one who will carry out the will of God's Reign. That action - that work - will not always be labeled good by the prevailing winds of the day. It may be faithful work and actions - but it may not be good at all.
O God of love and new life, keep us seeking the way of your Reign and risk to being rejected because we persistently stay within the bounds of your love put to life. Amen.
The Followers of Jesus as staying visible is to embody the vision. Among us is to be the peace that passes all understanding. I know, it sounds so cliché. But it is not to be. It is a peace that does not come into being by violence and it is not a peace that is maintained through violence. That kind of peace, is the peace of the world - that is no peace at all. As long as violence is the way we move through the day, there is no peace. We are invited to walk in the realm of peace-making. That is not an easy way. It demands self-sacrifice on behalf of others and on behalf of the vision of a new world in which no one will be victimized. The Followers of Jesus as staying visible step forward when the powers of the world as it is attempt to rule us or others. We step forward - we stay visible - we open up the room to new light and new life. When we stay visible, there will be consequences as many in power enjoy shadowy places and darkness in which truth can be hidden from sight. Remember, Jesus made sure his adventures in Jerusalem during the final week of his life were as visible as his antics all along the way. Most of the powers of the world do not do well with such visibility.
O God of love and new life, pull us into the vision of your Reign and keep us walking in the light of your ways. Amen.
The Followers of Jesus as staying visible is what resurrection hands us. Nothing needs to be hidden and nothing needs to be avoided and no one needs to be excluded and no one is less. We keep things in the open. We keep the doors open. We do not cover over what has happened or what is about to happen. The only surprise in the resurrection is that it really does happen just as promised. For too often, the promises of the world do not last or they are filled with hooks and trap doors. The Followers of Jesus as staying visible make sure that the ugliness of violence never be hidden or pushed to the side. For whenever that happens, new violence and ugliness will fill up the world once again. We are to be transparent and demand that the world around us will also show a bit of the truthfulness of life and death that is often too easily dismissed.
O God of love and new life, open wide the truthfulness of your Reign among us. Amen.
The Followers of Jesus as staying visible reminds us that there is nothing we need to hide. We are free to live in this day and time as though we are fully beloved and empowered to display that beloved-ness. For me this means we display this in our day-to-day lives. I find that we are given the way to do that as we hear the stories in Scripture, listen to how those words are given life within the world around us, are fed at the Lord's Supper, and splash ourselves with the water from the font. Yes, we do this all within the confines of our worship spaces, but it is all meant to take us out of the doors of the congregation and make the whole story - this whole new reality - visible within this day that is always longing for the Reign of God to break in and show itself. Therefore, we show ourselves as we are named by our God - beloved - and live within that name.
O God of love and new life, empower us to display your power-filled Reign for the world to see and experience. Amen.
The Followers of Jesus as staying visible places us right in the mix of all the life around us that is simply ordinary and common. In those places and times, the world longs for the presence of Jesus to be seen alive. Some folks may not call it Jesus but they long for the end of violence and the eruption of peace-making - the dismantling of bias and prejudice and the construction of life with arm wide open - the conclusion of scapegoating and the eternal life of solidarity with any and all. We may act in the way of Jesus and others may simply see it as the inbreaking of the Truly Human One. That may be just fine. The Followers of Jesus as staying visible places on all of us the need to pause and reflect on whose we are and what it may mean for our lives today if we reflect the life handed to us as children of God - beloved - with the beloved - meeting the beloved. As we pause, we breathe in the Spirit of life that serves to heal the world and use us as the healing balm for the world. We must be visibly present to heal - hands on everyone - hands on.
O God of love and new life, make us a part of how the world sees your love that sets people free and creates new life today. Amen.
The Followers of Jesus as staying visible has to do with the death of Jesus. There is no cover-up. There is no excuse making. Jesus is lynched - he is executed - he is put to death by a world that eliminates victims. We do not let go of that death on the cross. I must agree that we often let go of the brutality of the death of Jesus through our use of jewelry - but that is another issue. We keep the life of Jesus available for today by making that life visible in the life of the church. We continue to act in ways that bring out the forces of the world to try to put an end to our life that steps in the way of Jesus. The Followers of Jesus as staying visible maintain an ongoing vigil with and alongside all the people who the culture and the world seems to want to eliminate. Therefore, we step into the flow of marches that demand that people never lose sight of how brutal we can be to the least of us and those who are not just like us. We have to stay visible - in protest lines - in hearing rooms - in our neighborhoods - and wherever the world tries to go about its ways and take the lives of others.
O God of love and new life, continue to lead us out of the shadows of fear and into the way of our Lord, Jesus. Guide our life out in the light of this day. Amen.
The Followers of Jesus as persevering are ordinary folks who fall down, become discouraged, doubt, fear, and become anxious. We are invited to be people who also maintain that all of those times in our lives cannot and will not control the day. I would even suggest that even as the day is lost in all the powers of death and there appears to be no room for resurrection and new life, we move into tomorrow with hope. The Followers of Jesus as persevering know there is a tomorrow. We do not know the shape of what will come but we are assured that in the next day - beyond the hell of today - is the promise of resurrection. This is even when weeks pass and nothing new seems to be coming to life. Therefore, our Lord, invites us to persevere - stay the course - be open to that which is not yet the experience of the day. I pray I do not say that without considering how very, very hard it is for some folks - on some days - to keep moving in the way of Jesus. There is nothing in the resurrection life that will be as easy as cake. But we are told it will taste sweet when that life is our life and we are walking within it all.
O God of love and new life, feed us that sweet resurrection life that will transform the day and our hearts and our lives. Amen.
The Followers of Jesus as persevering places us in the mode of resurrection. Yes, the worst of the week may have been pestering us and yet we are always being invited into the life of resurrection - an actual life in the face of the worst of the week. This is always invitation - it can never be something coerced or brought about through threat or pressure or guilt. In the middle of he worst of things, we can only be invited to persevere. I think that invitation comes best from people who simply attend to others in the way that reflects that they are a part of this new life - a life that will be with others during the worst that the week can bring. The Followers of Jesus are not out there knocking on doors inviting folks to church, they are simply people who are willing to abide with those around them in and through all things. It is there - in that kind of solidarity that resurrection takes place - often in a surprising manner.
O God of love and new life, in the midst of the worst of the day, help us see your life that moves into and through all times and places. Amen.
The Followers of Jesus as persevering lets the love of God be seen in spite of the lack of love all around us. It is as though we sing, "here we go again." And we do - we go at this adventure of loving the world and risking our lives for the well-being of those around us. It is not an easy journey. It is a journey that will be full of surprises. We will find that we will stumble onto lives we did not anticipate. Those lives will be the ones of the people around us and even our own lives as they are transformed by this love that perseveres. And yet, as the day rolls along, we all know that there are all sorts of triggers and switches that will attempt to thwart lives full of the love of God' Reign. Therefore, as is so often the case, it is wise to know of others who are inspired to persevere so that we can do so together. We need one another to maintain a witness of God's love within a tattered and torn up world.
O God of love and new life, let's go at it again in the name of the Prince of Peace. Amen.
The Followers of Jesus as persevering get up and go about the life within the Reign of God again today. It is the always present invitation to let the love of God unfold through our daily acts along the way. It is remembering the 'and now' or the 'and then' of the biblical story. There is a next step or a next chapter or a next encounter. We face all of them with hearts that have been claimed by our God and lives then shaped by the character of our Lord, Jesus. The Followers of Jesus as persevering engage the way the day comes at us with a vision of how we will face the day so that our actions reflect the life of God's Reign even when the moment at hand resists such a display of life. It may be that as we continue on the way of our Lord we will be greeted well. It may be that we will be rejected. As we move through either one of those scenarios, there comes the 'and now' or the 'and then' which is already engaging us in what is coming. Therefore, we continue on - we persevere - we live within God's unfolding Reign.
O God of love and new life, as time passes, keep us within the life of the vision of your Reign. Shape us and move us in the way of our Lord, Jesus. Amen.