We’ve celebrated Jesus’ resurrection and ascension and followed that with Sundays recalling our belief in the Trinity and Jesus’ nourishing presence as wine and bread at Eucharist. Now we return to the day-in, day-out work of living the Christian vision.
With the gilt and banners back in the closets it may seem that we’ve entered the humdrum season. Not so. Now we see if all the celebrations will bear fruit in our more effective living for God’s future. That, after all, is the point. And we need to be wary of hearing the message but missing the point.
We Christians tread a fine line. With great fanfare we celebrate our gratitude for God’s love and Jesus’ total commitment to human fulfillment. At the same time millions around us live with immense suffering. We must remain aware of that incongruity. We must also respond to Jesus’ repeated reminders that his message of divine love wasn’t simply to make us feel good but to free us to bring loving justice to those living in misery.
At the beginning of each Eucharist we ask forgiveness for our failures to cooperate with God for the world he promises. We listen to God’s encouragement and we give thanks for Jesus’ work. We never give thanks, however, for the ways that we have cooperated with God. We never acknowledge that the Spirit has accomplished anything of value through our lives.
It isn’t being humble to ignore the good we do; it’s being oblivious to God’s power in us. When the Spirit’s succeeds in accomplishing love and justice through our lives, Jesus’ life bears its real fruit. Whether the celebrant expresses such thanks or not, we need to. We need to acknowledge what God is doing through us – at home, at work, in our community, in our world.
We need to do more at worship than praise God’s historical and distant actions. We need to experience, at least in small ways, that God is accomplishing good through us. We have to see that his Spirit is moving us to contribute to the life’s future.