Director’s Message

 

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Jesus still leads us

Now more than ever, we need to experience the nature and meaning of Jesus. Responding to a devastating pandemic and the evil of structural racism requires a strength that is not our own. Nothing but Jesus is going equip us to face the problems inside and around us and wholeheartedly engage God’s mission of restoration. Without Jesus, our training will only take us so far. One more meeting won’t solve our problem. Simply being able to go back to our pre-pandemic lives will not help, either.

Maybe, just maybe, this is the gift of COVID-19. And I do not write these words outside the heartache caused by this virus. But what if we are being stripped of all we hold dear? We are separated from the people and the routines that once gave our lives meaning and purpose. Yet we are waking up and discovering that Jesus continues to be at work in our lives, communities, church and world. Jesus continues to be the light revealing the way.

Hebrews 12:1–3 has been a source of inspiration for much of my ministry. I especially love the way The Message presents this pericope:

“Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!”

In the midst of this battle against racism and the work we are doing to prevent the spread of this deadly virus, let us keep our eyes upon Jesus. Scripture records that he never lost sight of his purpose. He knew where he was headed.

So where was he headed?

To the least of these … (Matthew 25:31–46)
To the Samaritan woman at the well … (John 4:1–42)
To the tax collectors and sinners … (Matthew 9:9–13)
To the people with leprosy and in need of complete healing … (Matthew 8:1–4)
To the cross and the grave … (Matthew 27:45–61)
To life beyond the grave … (Matthew 28:1–20)

There is much that we are unable to do right now. Yes, we have lost so much. Yet what remains is the calling to pursue God’s ministry and mission for the restoration of Creation. We are called to follow Jesus. We are called to go to the very people he loved. We are called to the same justice, which includes dismantling racism and eradicating poverty.

How will we ever do this? Simply by going where Jesus went and doing what Jesus did.

Grace,

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Ray Jones
Director of Theology, Formation & Evangelism