The celebration of 170 years of ministry does not come without some honest reflection. The story of Washington Street UMC is a story of redemption: If God could use the Roman cross and symbols of oppression, God can and certainly does use a church built with the money of slaveholders to tell a new story – a story of reconciliation, love, and resurrection.
The Parable of the Mustard Seed does say that great outcomes arrive from small beginnings, but such a reading is banal. It’s simple. It’s too easy. It’s not provocative enough. What was Jesus really saying? Take another read.
The parables weren’t offered to make us feel good about our discipleship. They are intentionally provoking, and challenge us to a greater faithfulness. The Pearl of Great Price should not be understood as a self-centered congratulatory allegory, but a hard challenge to deeper discipleship.
When you hear the story from the ears of the Jews to whom Jesus was speaking, you begin to realize the Samaritan wasn’t seen to be such a “Good” guy. In fact, Jesus using the Samaritan as the faithful one was offensive at best. This kind of radical love is missed when we assume the Samaritan was just a kind passer-by.
Editorial additions to the Biblical text, like section headers, often impact our ability to faithfully hear Jesus’ words. To understand the parables, like that of the lost sheep, coin, and son, we have to strip away 2000 years of explanatory interpretations to rehear Jesus’ words with the ears of the Pharisees.
The natural response to naming one’s brokenness is grief. We mourn our inability to sustain and give ourselves life – both individually and corporately. But this is life giving. As Jesus says, “Blessed are those who mourn.”
It’s one thing to know the biblical text. It’s another to be willing to follow it without question. How often do we engage in theological debate simply to avoid share love with those we choose to hate?
There is a Savior, and we are not him, so how do we live into the call to follow in the footsteps of Christ, in his role as Savior?
From the first day of our creation as living human beings, our invitation by God has been to receive and then to share.