Where Do We Find Jesus?
Beloved in Christ,
The church has left the building.
That’s a phrase I have often heard over the past year, as all of us have had our normal ways of gathering for worship disrupted and we’ve had to find new ways of connecting and coming together to worship God. While it has been deeply painful, it has also been an important, if long overdue, lesson for us to really internalize: The point of the church is not to gather in a building for some edifying rituals and then get back to real life. The point of the church is to be the body of Christ out in the world.
In last Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus fashions a whip and starts driving out those selling animals for sacrifice or exchanging money in the temple. When the clergy understandably ask him “what gives?” he essentially tells them that I, my body, is now the temple; I am where God dwells. God has left the building, and the place we worship is the body of Jesus. The question for us then, if God has traded the building for Jesus as a primary dwelling, is where do we find Jesus? Where do we go to worship this Jesus?
We start by looking at the places where Jesus tended to hang out, and at the people he tended to hang out with. He hangs out with a Samaritan woman who is not only an ethnic enemy, but a social outcast. He meets up with a blind man reduced to begging, whom no one would embrace because his blindness was understood to be punishment for sin. Jesus hangs out with those who are enemies, those who are unclean, those who are unworthy, those who are suffering, those who are pushed aside, and those who are forgotten.
So we will find and worship Jesus wherever the pain is: at homeless camps; in the streets, crying out for racial justice and healing; in the forgotten and broken places of your own heart.
Both the good news and the challenge for us in this moment is that God’s presence is not limited to one particular place. God is not some ethereal idea or vague notion that’s way out there somewhere. Our God is on the move, and our God shows up in the person of Jesus. Where are you, where are we, spotting Jesus in our lives, in our communities, and in our world? In this moment, how are we showing the world God’s amazing love?
Keep the faith,
The Right Reverend Craig Loya
Episcopal Church in Minnesota