Identity Formation in the Shadow of the Epiphany

I occasionally opened our Midtown services with a welcome that reminded us of our identity as God’s gathered people.

Welcome to Midtown Christian Community.  Welcome in the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who died to save sinners, was raised to life, conquered Sin and Death, and who is coming to reign on earth in justice and peace forever.

Today is the second Saturday after the Epiphany.  What does Epiphany mean?  It means “to reveal,” “make known.”  Again, the season between the end of the 12 days of Christmas (Jan. 6th) and Ash Wednesday, which begins the Lenten season, is the time of year in which we focus on the church’s mission to reveal Jesus Christ to the world.

What a terrible time of year to do this!  What were our parents in the faith thinking when they chose this grim time of year to highlight the church’s mission!?  It’s freezing cold out there, we’re all worn out and tired from the holidays, we’re broke, and it’s depressingly grey outside.  And we have to think about mission!? 

How are we going to find the energy to passionately sing “Be a Missionary Every Day,” put on a big fake happy face – because we know have to be good examples – and try to make Jesus look good by putting our best foot forward?

We are tired and weary, we are worn out.  And we haven’t even mentioned those of us who have doubts and fears, serious questions and heavy anxieties.

But it is good to remember just what it is that God calls us to as the church.  We are not called to be cheerful and super-peppy salespeople, nor are we called to deny the truth about how we’re doing. 

We are called to find places in God’s good world where there is brokenness and pain, and we are called to pray for God to heal.  We are called to provide help to those in need, a glass of water for those who are thirsty.  We are called to rejoice with those who rejoice, and to grieve with those who grieve. 

We are called to sit and give ourselves to the stranger who needs a listening ear, and see her turn into a friend.  We are called to give ourselves to be loved, and to love others, because God has made us one, joining us together as family.

Our mission is to be a community that loves, a community that welcomes, a community that serves, not a community that dazzles and amazes.  Thankfully, a broken, tired, worn-out, and weary bunch of people is exactly what God is looking for to be the hands and feet of his mission to love the world for the glory of the name of Jesus.

Jesus says this: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

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