Episcopal Diocese of Rochester
Joy in Christ, a way of life

Lent 2


Lent 2 - The will of God is not to escape, but to embrace the human condition, and by loving us to change us.


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There is a notion, that we all share at some point, that the church should somehow be above it all, should ride calm and untouched above the storm. It seems anathema that God would get all mixed up in the chaos and dirt of human strife. But that’s just what Jesus did, much to Peter’s dismay. Jesus suggested to Peter that asking him to be exempt from the human condition was to be on the side of the Evil One.


The church, our church, is now in the midst of a great cultural change from which it cannot escape. For the last three hundred years we’ve been part of a cultural landscape in which the dominant form of organization has been the voluntary association, the coming together of well-intended citizens in voluntary groups with a mission to improve society. People came together because they were Episcopalians or Rotarians or firefighters. The groups were diverse, joined not by politics or blood, but by a shared mission, a shared purpose. These diverse, volunteer associations are now being replaced by special purpose groups united by identity and politics. The groupings are much more homogeneous, and their purpose is to express and amplify their perspective, their identity, not to uphold the common good. What they’re against is often more important than what they’re for.


The church is part of this process. The splitting of faith communities along political and identity lines that we’ve been through and that we see now in the United Methodist Church and the Presbyterian Church is part of the movement from voluntary association to special purpose group. We feel the pull everywhere we go – to proclaim our identities and express our needs and desires as clearly as we can. Somehow God’s intentions, made known to us Jesus Christ, have taken a backseat who we are and what we want.


But the solution is not to withdraw, not to seek some sort of untouched purity. Rather, it is to throw ourselves into the fray with the love of God for all. Jesus died because of the politics of his day. And the risks remain. But the will of God is not to escape, but to embrace the human condition and, by loving us, to change us. We aren’t all together in one place. But can we, in this time, bring the love of God to every place we go, and to every person we meet? Is this not what it means to keep the faith?