During the first Acts 8 gathering at General Convention, I expressed my dream for a church that wasn’t ashamed to proclaim Jesus. Â The problem with dreams, of course, is that reality is much harder to live in. Â Since my return to parish life, I’ve given a lot of thought to how we “proclaim Jesus” on a regular and ongoing basis.
I found this Sunday’s lectionary to be particularly helpful, and I reflected on it in my personal blog this morning. Â Here’s an excerpt:
“Standing in the midst of Philipâ€™s Caesartown, Jesus asks his disciples, â€œWho do you say that I am?â€ Â Peter wastes no time. Â He is prepared to give an account of the hope that is in him. Â He is ready, willing and able to proclaim that Jesus is the Messiah, even if he hasnâ€™t a lick of a clue what that really means. Â Peter is not ashamed to proclaim Jesus.
Of course, proclaiming Jesus in word is one thing. Â The rest of Sundayâ€™s story is about how that word become action â€“ how we move from students to followers â€“ and it involves nothing less than denying ourselves, taking up our cross, and following Jesus. It means losing our lives for the sake of the Gospel. Â It means giving up our luxuries so that everyone might come within the reach of Christâ€™s saving embrace. Â It means personal morality with corporate consequences.
It also means, and hereâ€™s the kicker for Acts 8, corporate morality with personal consequences. Â What does it mean for The Episcopal Church to proclaim Jesus as the Messiah? Â How do we act in light of that good news? Â How do we structure ourselves? Â Govern ourselves? Â Budget ourselves? Â How do we communicate? Â How do we share? Â How do we grow?”
I know, I know. Â Still more questions than answers. Â At the heart of the matter is that first, we believe Jesus is Lord. Â What comes next, well that’ll take some work, some study, and some prayer.