“We are called to be a Church on the move, sent by Christ who walks with us. Our business is creating communities of peace, justice, and love wherever we go, wherever we live.”
Within our Christian gospels we find the themes of shared meals, hospitality, faithfulness, and discipleship. And we find the theme of God on the move, traveling with us, changing us, changing the world around us, and offering humanity new ways of being. The Council of Vatican II captured this theme by describing the Church as the Pilgrim Church. God is not distant and far off, watching us, but is here and travels with us.
Most of the time we only recognize the way God is with us once we are on the other side of our grief, our troubles, our disappointments, or even our joy. It is when we are looking back we see the signs of God’s presence. I know this has been true for me.
As the Hebrew scriptures show, God sought people out, offering a loving relationship, and they would enter that relationship with joy. Then the people would forget God, and walk away. They would walk toward hatred, meanness, prejudices, wars, greed, stinginess, and exploitation of others. They even killed the prophets that God sent to call them back. God’s persistent dream of a world where people act justly, love kindness, and walk humbly with God keeps failing. God understands disappointment and grief, yet never gives up on us. Each day we have the opportunity to join God in all that God wants to accomplish.
With the sending of God’s beloved One, Jesus, God means to change this world forever. God did something new. Through the presence of the Holy Spirit, given to us through Christ, we no longer need fall into patterns of hatred, meanness, or greed. Through Christ we have been shown the path of life and given the power to follow that path.
Christianity is meant to be a path of life. We are invited to fully participate in creating a more human world with compassion for all. What God continues to dream for us is that people will act justly, love kindness, and walk humbly with their God. Christianity is more than a religion, and if it is reduced to mere worship, it lacks the essentials of the faith handed down to us by the apostles.
Like so many, we are celebrating all our services online these days. I find I am grateful for the experience of celebrating Eucharist each in our own home. We emphasize: we are the bread, blessed and broken, to be given to others; we are the wine poured out for the forgiveness of sins. During our mass we emphasize the action of Eucharist as each of us breaks bread.
We are called to be a Church on the move, sent by Christ who walks with us. Our business is creating communities of peace, justice, and love wherever we go, wherever we live. But our experience of community has been altered by this physical distancing. It is more challenging. However, this does not let us off the hook. We simply need to be creative and make sure we do not wall ourselves off from those who are seeking the path to life that Christianity offers.
This new way of being Church will have an impact on what we believe about God, about ourselves, and about what it means to be Church. After the fall of Jerusalem, and the destruction of the temple, the people of God had to redefine themselves. Both Jews and Christians kept their faith alive and handed it down to their children by celebrating that faith in their homes. The Jewish people have never lost that tradition. But Christians moved into buildings that they began to call Churches, and now many are suffering, feeling they are prevented from celebrating their faith, because they cannot go to Church.
While the Church has always believed that each family is a domestic church, it is only now that we have the chance to understand what that means. The Church was never the building, but is the people, a Pilgrim people. We are the Church, the Body of Christ. We are learning to encounter Christ over Zoom, each in our home. Together we remember that the light of Christ shines in our homes and shows us the path to life. When we are free to move about again, and gather in a sacred space, may we go with the understanding that Christ has been with us, and goes with us.
If you do not have a faith community, now is an opportune time to join. You have control over your internet connection and can disconnect at any time, if it feels wrong to you. I recommend you choose a Church that challenges you and sends you out the doors ready to take on the world and make it better.
My beloved ones, as Christmas nears, let us determine to go with God wherever that takes us.