The Pope, the Presiding Bishop and you
“There is no such thing as a stationary Christian. You cannot think of a stationary Christian: a Christian that remains stationary is sick in their Christian identity. The Christian is a disciple to walk, to move.”
Over a year ago, Pope Francis offered these rather hard hitting insights in a homily: I thought about his insights as I reflected on another sermon, offered by our new Presiding Bishop, Michael Curry, at his service of installation last Sunday, November 1. (Another Monday morning nudge to watch it. It is stunning, sterling, inspiring. Youtube has it.) He talked not so much about Christianity or the church, let alone the Episcopal Church. He talked about the Jesus movement, and how the Episcopal Church is one expression of that movement.
Bishop Curry framed it as a movement of the church into the world, turning the world upside down, which is in fact really a matter of turning an upside down world right side up. It’s the work Jesus did in all kinds of ways.
Jesus taught it: The last shall be first. You give up your life to find it. Blessed are the poor, the meek.
Jesus modeled it, when he washed disciples’ feet, or blessed children, or had a theological debate with the Samaritan woman, or called religious leaders “whitened sepulchers.” A king on a cross models a world turned upside down, with a movement animated by grace, culminating in resurrection. It’s a movement which expanded from a small group of disciples (ancient near eastern keystone cops) to a global communion that has reached even to us.
While it’s a movement of the church with global scope, I found myself thinking about the fact that it’s also interior movement exploring the geography of the heart. I’ve come to believe that the vitality, the forward movement of our denomination will emerge from the vitality of our congregations which will emerge from the spiritual health and vitality of the individuals in those congregations. I call it the cellular model. Which leads to the Monday morning question: What does that movement, the Jesus movement look like in your life and mine?
When in your life you have experienced such movement? What contributed to that process? When in your life has the movement come to a grinding halt? What was that about? Hear the words of Thomas Keating, great contemplative who linked the life of silence and prayer with a call to serve in the world. He wrote:
“The call of the gospel, “Follow me,” is addressed to every baptized person. We have within us in virtue of our baptism all the grace-given powers we need to follow Christ into the bosom of the Father. The attempt to do this – to reach more deeply toward the love of Christ within us and to manifest it more fully in the world – constitutes the heart of the spiritual journey.”
Take time today to reflect on your journey, with the help of our new Presiding Bishop. What do you make of this thing called the Jesus movement? Do you consider yourself part of it? Would you like to be part of it in some new way?
Jesus said: I am come that you might have life and have it more abundantly.
Whatever faith you emerge with at the end of your life is going to be not simply affected by that life but intimately dependent upon it. For faith in God is, in the deepest sense, faith in life – which means that even the staunchest life of faith is a life of great change. It follows that if you believe at fifty what you believed at fifteen, then you have not lived – or have denied the reality of your life.
-Christian Wiman, from his book My Bright Abyss
Rev. Jay Sidebotham
RenewalWorks is a ministry of Forward Movement.