12 Apr Stepping into the Chaos Together
In the Old Testament, Joshua 3 records the story of the Israelites crossing the Jordan River into the Promised Land. The crossing occurs at harvest time, when the river routinely overflows its banks. The people will have to cross the swollen waters, a detail that recalls God’s parting of the Red Sea when the Hebrews escaped Egypt. This time, however, there is a catch. The Jordan’s waters will part only when the priests bearing the Ark of the Covenant step into the water. They cannot wait until all is dry and firm and certain. They have to get their feet wet and trust that a way will be made. They must, in other words, step out in faith.
It is one thing to gather each week for worship and revel in the gifts of Word and sacrament, prayer and praise that promise God’s grace. It is another thing entirely to step out of the church sanctuary into the often chaotic waters of our lives, trusting in grace to make a way forward long before that way is clear. Like the Israelites of old, we too have to get our feet wet. Being resurrection people summons us to step out in faith. We must walk into the water, trusting the grace of God more than we fear the currents.
This Sunday I will begin a post-Easter sermon series on the book of Ephesians. The “lens” through which we will study this beautiful epistle is the lens of growing in faith as—and within—a community. This “stepping out in faith” business is hard, and it isn’t meant to be done alone. We need support to grow as followers of Jesus, to mature in faith and wisdom, to develop more of the character of Christ. We need encouragement to stay the course, to get back up and try again after we fail and fall, to stay in the waters rather than retreat to what feels safe.
Community is a blessed, marvelous gift. To be enfolded in the embrace of others who love and care for you is life-giving and bestows immeasurable riches to our lives. But there is no such thing as an idyllic community. No perfect church or family, neighborhood or tribe exists. As Christians, that is completely irrelevant. Our vocation, our calling is to love others as Christ has loved us. Our call to love does not differentiate between those whom we deem to “deserve” the love of God and those whom we do not. We love the most unlovable of people for no other reason than that God loves them. There are no exclusions and no exceptions. Jesus established the breadth of God’s love on the cross.
Weekly worship reminds us of the power of the Holy Spirit at work in us, and this is critical because it is the Spirit that enables us to get our feet wet in response to God’s calling. Loving others is not pew work, accomplished in the safety and comfort of the sanctuary, cocooned in our “holy huddle.” In worship we are fed, nurtured, and helped to grow so that we can be Easter people in this Good Friday world of ours, people who confess our lack of love and receive grace to love again, people who stand at the edge of the chaos of life and fearful though we may be, still step into the swirling waters, trusting that God goes with us and ahead of us.
How is God inviting you to step out in faith this week?
Yours for the Kingdom,