A priest and performer considers religion, the arts, and the often thin space between sacred and secular, church and culture, pulpit and pew.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

The Way of Love: Go

Go: Cross boundaries, listen deeply, & live like Jesus
Jesus was on the move – a lot! He expected his followers to be on the move, as well, sending the disciples out during his early ministry (Matt.10:7-11, Mark 6:7ff, Luke 9:1-6) and again after his resurrection (Matt.: 28:16-20, Mark 16:15) – not to mention all those times they were on the move in his company! Jesus was not afraid to cross boundaries. He didn’t just stay in Jewish communities, with his own people. His travels, whether crossing the Sea of Galilee or walking overland, often took him into gentile territory, and he didn’t restrict his healings to his own people either. He drove demons from a man in Gerasene, healed the young daughter of the Syro-Phoenician (Canaanite) woman, and the slave of a Roman centurian. But it wasn’t only geographic or religious boundaries that Jesus crossed; he made short work of social and cultural divisions too. He made room for “the outcast and sinner”, adding a tax collector to his inner circle, allowing a woman of dubious repute to bathe and anoint his feet, welcoming a woman to sit at his feet and learn just like the men around her did. Our savior listened to the needs of those around him; he heard them, heard their stories. Jesus loved the unlovable, touched the untouchable, forgave the unforgivable, and embraced those whom society had rejected. He created family out of unrelated persons and built community by bringing unlikely strangers together. Finally, he crossed the ultimately boundary, bringing new life from death.

How can we use Jesus’ examples of crossing boundaries and listening deeply in order to live like him? We start by looking for him and seeing him – in the stranger, the one who offends us, the person we’d prefer to ignore, or even someone close to us whom we’ve begun to take for granted. We start by paying rapt attention to the stories of those whom we encounter. We start by relinquishing our fear of the other. We needn’t travel far, physically, in order to “Go”. We simply have to say to Jesus, with an open heart, “Hear I am; send me”.

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