“Commit to Christ: Joy” by The Rev. Stephanie Kendell

December 12th,2019 Categories: Stephanie Kendell Letters, Weekly Letter
Beloved Church,
Peace and joy to you my friends. I hope this week has brought you new ways of preparing for Christmas and the arrival of expected (and maybe even unexpected) people and surprises. I hope that you are all planning to come to our Christmas Eve candlelight service at 11pm Tuesday the 24th. It will be a moving celebration of the Christ birth as we usher into our world, our community, and our hearts newness that can only be brought by Christ (and the Christ in each of us). This month as we Commit to Christ by intentionally seeing Christ in people and places we have systemically, accidentally, or maybe even purposefully overlooked, we get the gift of possibility, in which we can correct our course and see the Christ in each of us. What a gift God’s grace is. What a joy that it is possible for each of us again and again.

I am a notoriously bad storyteller. When I try and tell a story without writing it down it-9 times out of 10- falls flat. That is because I get caught up in getting to the end of the story or the punch line of the joke, that I forget to share the details of the rest of the story. I get so wrapped up in how I feel about the story that sharing why the story matters becomes secondary or sometimes lost all together. So, when I read this week’s scripture from Matthew, I felt deeply for the Disciples. They just want to share the end of their story, but Jesus wants people to know why the story matters. See if you see what I mean in this week’s reading from Matthew 11:2-6.

While John was in prison, he heard about the works the Messiah was performing, and sent a message by way of his disciples to ask Jesus, “Are you ‘The One who is to come’ or do we look for another?”
In reply, Jesus said to them, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see:
‘Those who are blind recover their sight;
those who cannot walk are able to walk;
those with leprosy are cured;
those who are deaf hear;
the dead are raised to life;
and the anawim-the “have-nots” have
the Good News preached to them.’
“Blessed is the one who finds no stumbling block in me.

When we read scripture (well anything really), we tend to put ourselves in the story as one of the characters, and this story has a lot. We have Jesus, John, the Disciples, the narrator, the anawim, the deaf community, everyone that has ever died, the physically differently abled, the sick, etc. It’s a heavy cast of characters. But when I read it this week, I saw myself as one of the disciples who just got caught up in the excitement that the One who is to come has been found. I’d be the disciple with a precomposed “We found Jesus” text just ready to hit send with no other information. No who Jesus is. No where Jesus was. And definitely not why Jesus mattered. Just “We found him!” In which everyone who I would have sent it to would have said “Huh?”

Which is why Jesus wants us to tell the full story. So, people know not who he is but why he matters. So that even though they may not know about Jesus, but upon hearing his good works, everyone can see themselves in his story and know that his presence in the world matters.

This story reminds us that following Christ means so much more than fulfilling a prophecy. It means living a life where who we are matters less than what we do. And while we may not be able to do all the things that Jesus did in his life, the good thing is that isn’t what is required. What is required is to use the gifts we were given to share the good news of God’s love and grace with all whom we encounter. If we all do that, the list we could report back to John will look a lot like Jesus’s.

Friends, what a joy it is to see the Christ in you at work. To see each of you coming together in community, building a list of deeds done in the name of Christ, and telling the whole story of what it means to be Christians and why it matters just as much today as it did then.

Shalom Y’all,
Rev. Stephanie

A quick prayer for your week: God, may I be known for the ways I reflect your love and grace. And may that bring us both incredible joy. Amen