April 14, 2017

Lent 2017: Day Thirty-Nine

Week Six: It’s the End of the Church As We Know It

Reflection for the Week: How can I develop courage to cast a vision for a new church?

This passage in John is one of the tenderest in all of scripture. I have recited these words hundreds of times at that moment of benediction at memorial services for church members, friends and even my own family. It is interesting that for me these words evoke peace not sadness.

Sometimes to “finish” means to come to an end. When you finish a meal, it is gone. When you finish a race, it has ended. That is not what Jesus meant here. Like a great artist who has just finished a masterpiece the work has not ended, it has been completed. The completed work now takes on its own life.

In his death on the cross, Jesus completes life. As the Apostles Creed says, “born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead and buried; on the third day he rose from the dead; he ascended into heaven.” This is the reality Christ has created for us. A life that is complete and wholly connected with the eternal God. We come from the Spirit, are born, live through the joys and struggles of life, die and return to Spirit. Notice Jesus “gave up” his spirit; it was not extinguished or taken from him. In the life of Christ, all life is redeemed from a “dead end” story, to a “never ending” story.

What is left to us then is to live in this story. The way we live in this story is to live the way Christ lived. Christ lived in constant communion with God. Christ lived in constant community, teaching and sharing with his disciples the message of God’s love. Christ lived in compassion for all. Christ embraced the children and called us to care for them. Christ called us to a level of forgiveness that is still hard to live out today. Christ called us to a level of sacrifice that flies in the face of financial stability and a secure retirement. Christ spoke out, stepped out, reached out, and poured himself out for us. We may not be Christ, but as Christians, his model is still the way we must seek to follow. If we want peace on earth or peace in our souls, the way of Christ is the surest path of all.

Prayer: Loving God, may the light of Christ guide my path today and every day. Amen.

Rev. John Farley
Dean of Cabinet
California-Pacific Conference