ulie Short leads the congregation during our 2017 Church Retreat on a guided meditation centered around the theme, “Called to the Way: Living the Wisdom of Jesus.”
Matthew 5:44-45, 48; 6:24b-33
Identity – Shaped by the God I Serve
Jesus’ wisdom moves from Blessing (God’s kingdom breaking in) to Identity (discovering who I am in God’s realm) to Action (living actively from the Identity I learn in Jesus). Jesus shows us who we are by showing us the nature and character of God, of reality.
Identity is profoundly contested. Who am I? What is my life about? Am I defined by work, class struggle, nation, race, gender, oppression, relationships, wealth, desires, music, subconscious id-ego. Is my ‘self’ a delusion of chemical reactions in mindless brain cells. Does my life matter, now or ever? Am I loved? How do I find hope – the truth? We feel after God with human-sized gods – variations of power, sex, and money.
Matthew 5:21-24; 6:9-15
A Kingdom Breaking in among the Broken
Jesus proclaims the kingdom/rule of God. People throng to him, sick, suffering, curious. He calls ordinary people to follow him. And they do. He begins teaching on a hillside. He pronounces blessings. Not ideals but naming those among whom this kingdom is breaking in. Not the religious, powerful, wealthy. Poor in spirit, mourning, meek. Among them God’s ancient promises to Israel are coming to fullness, unexpectedly.
Jesus never condescends. These are the light of the world. The cutting edge of God’s rule. He calls them to the wisdom, the life of God’s realm, beginning now in our world.
The Call and The Way
We begin a series looking toward our congregational retreat: “Called to the Way – Living the Wisdom of Jesus.” Jesus was not an expected wisdom teacher giving proverbial advice with a bit different twist. He called followers to learn to see a new reality and to walk that path. For every one of his early disciples, it was a radical challenge to begin a journey of challenges over years. Jesus leading to events beyond imagining. Peter, Andrew, James, John, Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Matthew, Simon– Jesus is profoundly personal. God is personal, creating diverse, specific people, loving all. Jesus calls to “follow behind me,” warns/promises transformation. They leave everything and follow. They leave behind an old self, to find their own lives/souls.