In the last few weeks, I had the opportunity to be at the Walk for the Children in El Paso, TX and the Procession of Peace in Elizabeth City, NC. I am still reflecting in the different conversations and observations I experienced as I was part of these opportunities, but there are two things I take with me. One is that the ministry of presence is always needed especially in times of turmoil, and second is that as the Church of Christ we have opportunities in front of us all the time to be witnesses and exemplars of hospitality, compassion, and love that we cannot ignore.
One of my spiritual role models, St. Oscar Romero, once said, “The pastor needs to be where there is suffering.” I think that adapting this phrase is appropriate, “The Christian needs to be where there is suffering.” Often, our fear to be “political” lead us to be silence before social injustices. That is why I think that if we, as Christians, just pay attention to the places of suffering and seek to become instruments of redemption and hope, we don’t have to worry if we are being “political” or not.
One of the lectionary texts for this week says, “…and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations….” Before his ascension, Jesus wants to make sure that his redeeming plan for “all nations” is fulfilled. Jesus wants to make sure that his disciples understands that at the end of the day is about “all nations” experiencing new life through repentance and forgiveness. Jesus wants to make sure that his disciples model repentance and forgiveness. Jesus wants us to model repentance and forgiveness.
Where are the places of suffering in our midst? Where are the places in our midst where the ministry of presence is needed? Where are the opportunities in our midst to offer hospitality, compassion, and love? More significantly, what are the areas in my life in which I need to experience redemption? Are there people in my life I need to ask for forgiveness? Are there people I my life I need to grant forgiveness?
The good news is that in the same way Jesus offered a blessing to his disciples before is ascension, Jesus also offers a blessing to us. And, in the same way the disciples “…” we are invited to adopt a posture of joy as we are reminded that Jesus ascended into heaven and he is interceding for us day and night.
May Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians be yours too:
1:15 I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, and for this reason
1:16 I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers.
1:17 I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him,
1:18 so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints,
1:19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power.
1:20 God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places,
1:21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come.
1:22 And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church,
1:23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. Amen.– Ephesians 1:15-23
If you would like to view past editions of Time with Ismael, follow this link: https://heritagedistrictnc.org/category/from-the-ds/