I wondered why Christianity had not typically embedded itself into these festivals, why we weren’t among the leaders of new cultural developments and wildly creative thought. Certainly God is wildly creative – enough to find his way into human hearts in other cultures around the world. But at these festivals, and in the newly developing cultures of postmodernity, there seemed to be so few people of Jesus.
Category Archives: Incarnational
What does love look like?
It could look like 50 bags.
50 jars of peanut butter
50 jars of jelly
50 loaves of bread
50 boxes of powered milk
50 boxes of cereal
50 notes to let people know, because of Jesus, that we care.
When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
Then the King will say to those on his right, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”
Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?”
The King will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
If you love me, keep my commands.
A telephone call came into the rectory. It was the father of a twenty-year-old man named Doug. Doug had contracted this strange disease [AIDS]and was asking for a visit by a priest. Monsignor Henry, the pastor in his seventies, asked all three full-time priests to go; each refused, using the severity and unknown cause of the disease as an excuse. Monsignor Henry then approached me. I was hesitant and was going to use my studies as an excuse. However, when he agreed to accompany me, I decided to go.
Once we arrived at the hospital, we were told to put on protective “moon suits” before going in to Doug’s room. He looked much older and sicker than I had expected. We talked softly for about fifteen minutes; then Doug began to cry.
“What’s wrong, Doug?” I asked.
He looked at me and with incredible sadness replied, “It dawns on me that no one has even touched me in over three months.”
I let those words sink in and wondered how I would have handled life without a handshake or hug for three months. As I thought about that, I suddenly became aware of Monsignor Henry slowly removing the helmet and garb of the protective “moon suit.” And then I witnessed the parable of the judgement of the nations played out as elderly Monsignor Henry bent over and hugged dying Doug.
A holy silence descended upon the room. I wondered how Monsignor Henry could be willing to rick his own life by responding to Doug that way.
We drove home in virtual silence. As we approached the church in the Bronx, I turned to Monsignor Henry, but before I could say a word he simply said with tears in his eyes, “Years ago, I told Jesus that I would give him everything – and I mean everything. Today, I was able to give to Jesus what he has given to me.” Monsignor Henry subconsciously knew that selfless openness could lead to an encounter with the God who empties himself in the ordinary yet sacred moment before him.
I would argue that this ‘attractional mission’, while effective for a few, is actually a case of putting the cart before the horse. Deciding on a form of church and then trying to make it so that people want to come is mission in reverse.