June 7, 2020
Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshipped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Something to Do
everything I have commanded you
If part of our task as disciples of Jesus is to teach others to follow Jesus’ commandments, we need to know what those commandments are. Rewrite the two great commandments (Love God with all your heart, mind, strength and love your neighbour as yourself) in your own words. How would you explain them to someone who had never heard them before?
I am with you always
For generations, Christians have used objects as reminders of Jesus’ promised presence. We wear crosses around our necks or display pictures in our homes or carry prayer beads in our pockets.
If this is already part of your practice, recall the story of your reminding object (and perhaps share it with someone). Where did the object come from? Why is is important to you? How does it make you feel? If you don’t usually bring it into your prayer space, do so this week.
If you don’t have an object like this, consider using one. It can be as simple as a cross fashioned out of two sticks and brought into your prayer space. Outward signs can be powerful spiritual aids, giving our eyes and hands something to hang on to while we set our spirits soaring.
Something to Wonder
All authority has been given to me
Does Jesus have all authority in your life? What would that even mean? Is it something you actually want?
Questions like these tend to come with official “right” answers but no one is marking this paper. Be honest with yourself and with Jesus. Remember that doubts are welcome on the mountaintop and do not interfere with Jesus’ faithfulness to you.
All authority has been given to me
Earlier this week, Donald Trump attempted to claim the authority of Jesus in a photo op on a church doorstep with a raised Bible. He certainly demonstrated he had some kind of authority – the authority to clear out inconvenient people using the force of the state; the authority to be seen and heard as he wished. But he also demonstrated the limits of his authority as church folk rose up to denounce his misappropriation of Jesus’ authority. It remains to be seen whose authority will hold sway in the near future.
Consider all the times and places in which Jesus’ authority has been claimed for the wrong purposes. What can you do to prepare yourself to resist such false claims?
Consider all the times and places in which Jesus’ authority has been revealed in truth and justice. What can you do to participate in such work?
Something to Learn
Jesus and Race
Once again, we are called to attend to the reality of racism and the ideology of white supremacy as protests rage and people of colour die – within our own borders as well as to the south and everywhere around the world. This is not the first time and it will not be the last time unless our work extends beyond the headline-inspired outrage currently being felt. So let’s commit ourselves to some learning.
I googled “Jesus” in Google images. Here is what I found. What do you notice?
Next, I looked up “Jesus race”. What do you notice? What are the implications of the difference between these two searches?
Which images of Jesus are most familiar to you?
How do the different images make you feel?
When you read the Bible, what do the characters in your imagination look like? Do they look like roughly like you – whatever race and cultural group you happen to be? Do they look like the majority of the people around you – whether you belong to that majority or not? Do they look like modern Palestinians and Israelis? Does it matter?
Next time you read the Bible, be deliberate about how you paint those faces in your imagination and see what, if anything, changes.
For some context, check out good old wikipedia: Race and Appearance of Jesus and this article, “Race and Ethnicity in the Bible“, adapted from Misreading Scripture Through Western Eyes by E. Randolph Richards and Brandon O’Brien.
Church and Race
Obviously, different churches have different relationships to race and racism – different denominations, different national expressions, different parishes. But our mainline North American church has some serious work to do. As Canadian Anglicans, we have begun to do the hard work of reconciliation and justice-seeking with Indigenous people but there is more work to do on the evils of racism. Learning is a good place to start.
Here’s a book list to help you get started: Stop Asking People Of Color To Explain Racism–Pick Up One Of These Books Instead
And here’s an excerpt from a recently published book on racism in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, written by a black pastor. Don’t be fooled by Pastor Lenny Duncan’s denominational focus – Canadian Anglicans need to read it, too.
Dear Church: A Love Letter from a Black Preacher to the Whitest Denomination in the U.S
And a useful review of that book can be read here.
Something to Pray
Holy God, we do not always understand your word or your ways.
Give us wisdom and imagination and courage as we learn and grow.
The story this week has made me wonder about…
(what questions are still on your heart?)
Receive my questions and help me hear your answers.
The story this week has filled me with…
(how are you feeling?)
Accept my praise, heal my hurt, ease my worry.
The story this week has reminded me of…
(are there situations or people you are thinking of?)
Be with all who are in need of you.
In Jesus’ name, we pray.