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Rector's Reflection: Called Into Relationship, January 13, 2024


Beloved Members of St. Martin’s,

 

Our readings this weekend speak of being called by God into deeper relationship.

 

In the gospel portion we hear, Jesus begins calling his disciples. “Follow me,” he says to Philip and then Philip goes and tells Nathanael, who himself is invited to “come and see” when he expresses skepticism that Jesus might be worth following.

 

One of the things important to note here is that Jesus doesn’t invite people to worship him. He asks people to follow him. That’s why the word “disciple” is used. A disciple is someone who “disciplines” or aligns their life with that of their teacher. A disciple seeks to learn and imitate. A disciple

 

How is that different from worship? Worship is part of our life as religious people, but it should never be our sole focus. Our main focus should be realizing that Jesus becomes incarnate as a part of God’s continuously calling us into deeper relationship. Worship places something on a pedestal—and creates distance. Worship is an event. It’s a great first step, but rituals can never take the place of genuine commitment. Discipleship is a commitment to lifelong learning and listening—a way of orienting our lives toward following Christ’s example of radical embodied love. Worship can create an imaginative chasm between ourselves and God. Our psalm insists that God knows us and loves us from our very beginnings.

 

The amazing thing about God’s love for each of us is that it is reciprocal, always starting from God’s own initiative. As the children’s hymn reminds us, “Oh, how I love Jesus—because he first loved me.” Real love breaks down all barriers. What an incredible power! And maybe that’s why oppressors everywhere seek to divide people from one another, and set people against each other. Jesus came into the world to remind us of our essential natures as beloved children of God, working together for the healing of the world.

 

Being a Christian, a follower of Christ, is not meant to be a mere label or identifier. Rather, being a Christian is to, by prayer, study, and listening, to attune ourselves for God’s call to us in our lives.

 

God calls us to action in every moment. God calls us to partnership, not passivity. God calls us to be fertile ground for God’s ongoing work in the world. Through God’s love, we are called to be healers, reconcilers, restorers, witnesses. In short: disciples. God knows us—and calls us to be partners in the restoration of creation. How is God calling you, right now?

 

In Christ,

Mother Leslie+

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