When people see us, do they see Jesus?
Beloved in Christ,
One question it's often suggested congregations ask themselves when assessing their mission, vision, and unique identity is, "If this congregation ceased to exist, what would the community miss about it?" That's a good question to ponder for sure, but it seems to me a more important and foundational question is: "when the community sees our congregation, do they see Jesus?"
Our core work as faith communities is to so deeply root ourselves in the person of Jesus that our life together re-presents Jesus and his gospel of love to the world around us. When people see what happens in our buildings, does it look like the Jesus who welcomes the outcast and the forgotten? When people see how we show up at community meetings, or school gatherings, or non-profit committees, or even soccer practice on a Wednesday night, do they see the Jesus who signals God's intent to reconcile and heal all that has been broken down and wounded? When people join us in person or online for worship, are they invited to tether their lives to the living God, whose love alone has the power to pierce the darkness that so often surrounds us? When ethnic, racial, or religious groups are targeted by small or large acts of violence and hate, do we join Jesus in declaring "no more of this"? When despair and death feel like they will crush us and our neighborhoods, do we join Jesus in shouting the defiant alleluia of resurrection? When all appears lost, do we show up as a people who simply won't count God out, and always hold onto the hope of new life?
The most important question we can ask ourselves as individuals and communities is, when people see us, do they see Jesus? I see Jesus in the communities that make up our diocese each and every day. I'm grateful for the life we share, and the ways we are always encouraging and challenging one another to be more fully conformed to Jesus' image and likeness, that we might use whatever we have, for as long as we have it, to join God's project of healing a dark and painful world with the light and balm of perfect love.
Grace and Peace,
The Right Reverend Craig Loya
Episcopal Church in Minnesota
Stories from ECMN