As we enter the holiest week on the Christian calendar, I am struck by the thought that we are presented not only with one of the greatest themes of hope born out of the worst and most impossible of circumstances, but that the account – the entire narrative – is based on relationship. Had Jesus sequestered himself, we would have no entry into Jerusalem, no betrayal, no injustice, no death, and no resurrection – no terror turned into Love’s greatest triumph.
As much as the events from Palm/Passion Sunday through Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and into Easter are about Jesus, they are also about relationship: Jesus in relationship with others. I believe that there is as much for us to learn about ourselves in the example of those relationships as there is for us to learn about God and our faith in the events of Holy Week and Easter.
Recently in a service, I invited the offering using wisdom and words from a UU Fellowship in Franklin, SC. I said: “We come to this place because we love what exists here. This church is a living entity, and like all living things, it must have nurture and sustenance. Its breath and its heartbeat… its life itself, can only be derived from its living components.” We, the living components of the Body of Christ at First Church, are our church in its present form. Both simple and profound, this statement invites us to recognize that it is in and through us that God works the miracles we yearn for. Each one of us is vitally important to First Church; without us there is no church here and now.
Often at First Church we say that we don’t tell one another what to believe, that we welcome one another “no matter who we are or where we are on our life’s journey” and that we expect we will disagree with one another from time to time. I wonder sometimes whether, in the midst of those sentiments, we speak often enough of the things that bind us together no matter our differences. Do we all have a strong sense of the role we each
play in God’s enterprise of church? Do we feel the connection of our covenant to one another so that, like Jesus on Maundy Thursday, we are prepared to sit at the table with one another even when we feel the sting of betrayal? And does our covenant with one another give us faith that we can remain present with one another, committed to one another, enough to talk it through honestly and openly so that we can welcome the miraculous Spirit of Easter even when some may have deserted or doubted?
As we enter the journey of Holy Week and Easter this year, I invite us to reflect on the role of relationships that Jesus navigates and to allow the narrative to minister to us as we continue to learn and grow in our faith and in our covenant with one another at the First Congregational Church of Akron.
Yours in Christ,