It’s a common story. Common enough to have actually happened multiple times. The bishop is visiting a congregation in turmoil. During the conversation the bishop quotes scripture. The response: “We don’t care what Jesus said. We voted.”
Well, now we have voted. Our lives are shifting. Yet we remain a church called to follow Jesus. It may not be easy. It may bring criticism. And, frighteningly, we may be accused of partisanship. No matter, we are called to follow Jesus and to invite others to join us.
Jesus calls us with the challenge, “Do not fear.” When the world is dark, Jesus does not flee. Jesus, the light of the world, enters the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it. As people of Jesus we live to dispel darkness. We share light and hope and promise.
The gospels promise that in the name of Jesus the Gentiles will hope. The Gentiles? Yes, those who are not us – the outsiders, those who believe differently, those who have been told, “You aren’t one of us.” Jesus came in love for all the children of God. Following Jesus, we meet and welcome the different. Following Jesus we sit to eat with them, we listen to hear their stories, and we share our stories with them.
Jesus challenges us to “go out at once into the streets…and bring in the poor.” He never says choose the poor that are worthy of assistance. He never once tells us to throw them a token. Instead we are invited to invite. This challenge alone brings me embarrassment and shame.
Jesus tells us that when we welcome the stranger we welcome the Christ. And he goes on: Visit the sick. Visit the imprisoned. Feed the hungry. Give drink to the thirsty. Clothe the naked – in fact, if you have two coats, give one to those who have none. The challenges go on and on.
And I care what Jesus says.