Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Does Jesus mean everyone? Tuesday in Holy Week

It is the holiest of all weeks, but the less-than-holy routine of the church still plods along as it always does. This morning, shortly before our noon Eucharist, I got a call from a sales representative  from a well-known religious supply company (yes, for those unfamiliar with the hum-drum of church business, there are companies that specialize in selling everything from candles to wafers, vestments to Sunday school booklets, and they have sales people who make blind calls). 

I have talked with many such religious supply sales people over the years, and usually I can get
by with asking them to send me a catalog or a website link.

But this salesman pressed a little harder than most, and he had a hint of despair in his voice. The church supply business is hurting like all businesses these days, and our conversation ended with his plea that I support "Christian business" because "that will make our economy recover."

I have to say the end of our conversation left me with a bad taste in my mouth. The company he represents is a fine company, their items are of high quality, so I am not naming the company. But it seems to me that the point Jesus tries to make over and over is that he comes for everyone, and salvation (recovery?) belongs to all, not just those carrying the label "Christian." If I understand anything at all about being a follower of Jesus, it has something to do with breaking out of tribal loyalties. 

And so off I went to our noon Eucharist pondering again the meaning of being a Christian, mixed with my thoughts about last night's wonderful conversation with the Shalom Group on the topic of Holy Saturday and Jesus's going into Hell. We had 18 people at the noon Eucharist in the chapel (see photo above), and I sat in silence still thinking about all of this. 

The gospel lesson for today (John 12: 20-36) is one of the long discourses where Jesus tries to explain the meaning of his impending death. It struck me as I heard it that today's lesson has to directly to do with who is included (everyone), and how they are included (by the Cross of Good Friday and Holy Saturday): Jesus descends to the dead to free everyone from death. And by everyone, he means everyone. Hear again his words...
"And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself."
All people are included, all. There are no boundaries to the events of Holy Week, as there are no boundaries to the power of God's grace and mercy. 

Tonight at 7:30 pm we will return to this sacred space for the mystical haunting chants of Taize, led by University of Virginia students in our Canterbury Fellowship. I hope you will join us.

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