I have a confession to make: I love Jesus
Another confession: If it is not already your truth, I hope to inspire you to love Jesus too
And Beloved, as your pastor and priest, I am calling Us all to live even more deeply and more intentionally into this Way of love that Jesus has shown us. This life of love that demands God’s justice for all of Creation. This life that we declare in our baptismal promises. For in baptism, beloved, we are washed clean of the other allegiances that lay claim upon us so that we can live wholeheartedly into this way of love.
This way that calls us to be continually shaped and formed by the Word, by meeting Jesus face-to-face in the sacraments, by rubbing elbows with God as we come to know our neighbor in relationship and mutual service.
And as we lean into and live out our love for Jesus, let us become bold enough and brave enough to be the prophets God dreams us to be
Prophets are not fortune-tellers. Instead they are the ones who point to God’s work and presence in the world. A prophet is a witness and a witness is one who sees and one who then proclaims what has been seen.
It has been said that to pray is to live with God; to pray is to have life with God. I believe this to be true, but often issues and concerns in our world require more than our thoughts and prayers.
The world needs prophets right now; oh how we need prophets. Prophets who demand we not be restricted and limited in our love by nationalism or legalism or prejudice, but prophets who point to God’s justice and demand the abundance of God’s love to be spread through out the world. Prophets who speak, act, vote and work to make certain there is clean water for all people; that families seeking safety and refuge, just as the holy family did so long ago, that these families are not separated; that children do not find themselves in cages; that women are no longer abused or harassed and that we earn an equal wage for equal work. That all people have the opportunity to earn a living wage and not just be imprisoned by poverty for the sake of corporate profit.
Let me share two moments with you from my time away as I worked for the Church at convention. Last Sunday, around 1000 of us stood outside a detention center where women separated from their children are kept; we stood in the same blazing hot temperatures that families spend days in as they cross barren land toward a better life. These Families, these women, who came for asylum; asylum that is a legal right for all people. We were located a bit away from the building and had a permit for that selected location. The windows seemed to be slits. We were not sure if we were seen or heard. But after we left, a woman from inside the detention center called the organizers who helped to make the prayer service happen, and she told us that the women were glued to those slits of windows until they go no longer see our buses as we left. The women were crying, so moved to know they are not alone.
Earlier on Sunday, we gathered in a park to listen to the parents of Carmen Schentrup who was shot at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas high school in Parkland, Florida. These parents who are now prophets were joinged by a freshman girl from Texas who has become an activist prophet because at the age of 14 she has never known a time without school shootings. She has never known a time without lock-down trainings at school---a time when schools are a safe place to go. These prophets implored us to do more than pray. They asked us to demand action on gun legislation. They asked us to seek an end to the sale of assault rifles in our country. Brave,bold prophets changed forever by violence that could have and should have been prevented. Violence that could have and should have changed the heart of our nation.
Beloved, our society does not live into the Way of love. But we can. We can choose it, day by day, moment by moment. Beloved, for the love of God, we must. We must intentionally and with great commitment choose this Way of love, supporting and encouraging one another as we stumble, which we will—-again and again.
As John the Baptist experienced, this way of love is often risky business. Sometimes being a prophet puts our lives on the line.
If we love Jesus, then we cannot remain silent or uninvolved any longer. We can not hesitate or wait for a time when we will be ready. We must dive into this way of love with all that we are and invite others to join us. Now is the time. Now is the day of salvation.
After Nelson Mandela was released and people asked him how reconciliation and repair could ever happen after such violence and division had taken place through the sin of apartheid in South Africa, Mandela looked up and out at the Beloved and said: It is in our hands.
Jane Johnson is the pastor and priest of the Beloved Community of Intercession Episcopal and Redeemer Lutheran.