by Fletcher Lowe
You may have heard the story of a recent conversation between the Devil and God. Gleefully the devil says, “Well, God, looks like I have beat you this time. My virus has shut down all your churches just as I planned.” God replies, “You are correct that the church buildings are closed down. But the church is not, for the church are the people and they are very much alive, some doing extraordinary things to protect my people.”
That reminds me of a conversation I had with a person driving into the town where I began my ordained life. When he saw my clerical collar, he rolled down his car window and asked where the Episcopal church was. I hesitated a moment and then said, “Well, the church is the teller in that bank over there, and down the road the owner of the radio station and back there is the mayor in city hall and over there is the salesman in the hardware story. That’s where the church is. But if you want to know where the building is it’s two blocks over on the left.” I’m sure I gave him more information than he wanted, but it does follow God’s rebuke of the devil. The drawing says it all!!
Jesus in Matthew 10 put it this way:
5 These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, 6but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
To paraphrase: “GO, partner with me in my mission, not to some foreign place but right here in your community.”
That call comes to us, again, to “GO, Proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ,” as the Episcopal Church’s Baptismal Covenant states.
A new favorite hymn of mine says it well:
Go my children with my blessing, never alone.
Waking, sleeping, I am with you; you are my own.
In my love’s baptismal river, I have made you mine forever….
Go my children, fed and nourished, closer to me,
Grow in love and love by serving, joyful and free….