Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Advent 2015

"On Following Jesus"


             As Jesus walked by, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office, and he said to him, "Follow me."  And he rose and followed Jesus (Matthew 9:9).


             All of us have probably heard more than enough pious chatter about "following Jesus."  However, one cannot avoid wrestling with the idea because that's how the whole Christianity thing started.  That peripatetic teacher from Nazareth did not wait long as a young man to approach Peter, James, John, and others and say, "Follow me."  And they did.  In this case, Matthew.  Mathew was in his plush, Seventh Ave. office laboring over numerous tax forms when suddenly Jesus walks in and says, "Follow me," and just like that Matthew does.

So Matthew is called to pilgrimage and at times to wayfaring, for every pilgrim gets lost at times.  "Follow Jesus" into CBS or the Pentagon or the corner grocery or a slum section or far-away-lands.  Can you picture yourself being addressed this way?  Matthew heard a voice promising meaning to his life.  It is a voice still speaking out of liberty - not wanting us to be driven like sheep, but desiring us to come running to him like lovers, shouting joy.  It is a voice calling us to joyous pilgrimage.  And one gets on with it when Jesus says,       "Come on."

Those who leave fishing nets and tax forms show a checkered pattern in their lives.  They deny, betray, have ambitions, and desert under pressure.  The report of their lives reads like that of the average local congregation.  But these folk pick up the pieces and keep "coming on."  Community in the army of God does not come from uniformity and lack of dissension.  Rather, it arises finally from loving acceptance.  Nor does the most creative service always come from those without handicap or blemish, for in the army of God only the wounded          can serve.

"Follow me" means many things to many people as it is acted out in the contemporary world.  Obviously the destinations are those places we think we are needed most.  And, beyond these places of need, we engage ourselves in the business of hooking persons and calling them into the same pilgrimage.

Loving one another like brothers and sisters is at the heart of the Jesus legacy.  It is also at the heart of "follow me."  Love speaks to everyone - tax collectors like Matthew, and to those in need of wholeness and acceptance.  And it speaks in all accents that others may hear the voice of love which says, "Come on, follow me."

Our Father, allow us to have done with lesser things and to get on with the business of truly following.  In the name of him who calls us in this Advent season, we pray.  Amen.


- George Shriver


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