Today’s Readings: AM Psalm 16, 17; PM Psalm 22; Amos 5:1-17; Jude 1-16; Matt. 22:1-14
A Reflection from the Rev. Deacon Ed Jones, Secretary of the Diocese.
It’s not easy to be a Christian in the Congo.
The Anglicans I visited last year in the war-torn east of that country care for orphans, empower women and lift up the hopes of the needy under some of the harshest conditions on earth. Millions have died from the still-continuing violence of the past two decades. There is so much still to be done.
I think of those Anglicans, and other Christians in that part of the world, when I hear folks within our own Episcopal Church talk of their desire to feel “comfortable” in their church home. To me, that word misses the significance of our radical call to love God and to love one another.
There’s a big difference between feeling “comforted” and feeling “comfortable.” The former is woven into the DNA of our community of faith; the latter suggests a “warm-and-cozy,” passive response to the call to Christians to heal and reconcile the world.
The parable in the first 14 verses of Matthew 22 suggests to me this comforted/comfortable distinction. In a metaphor of God’s relationship with the people, all are invited to the royal wedding — the good and the bad. There’s a reason for this radical inclusiveness. Grace is not earned; it is an open invitation. But not all accept the invitation. And one who does attend fails to prepare. These are the people who miss the significance of the call.
Our openness to God’s grace is not meant to be a comfortable exercise in “showing up.” We are called on to live our lives in ways that reflect our love of God and our love of our neighbors. That’s tough work in a polarized world wracked by violent divisions over wealth, ideology and, yes, even religion. We will often seek to be comforted. But our call as Christians is not to seek to be “comfortable.” It’s to give our lives to Christ — to focus, to prepare, to pray about our call as followers of Christ and then to act.
That’s what we’re doing this Advent season — focusing, preparing and praying about the Savior who is coming.
And, of course, the good news is that he is HERE — within us.
There has been some rare good news lately from the eastern Congo. A major guerrilla group has laid down its arms. But there is much left to do for the peacemakers and love-givers of that beautiful but shattered part of the world.
Christians there are giving their all to help those who need help. They have focused, prepared and prayed, and now they are acting. In doing so, they are models to us as we wait, reflect and prepare for the birth of a Savior who calls on us to comfort our neighbors in need, even in the most uncomfortable of circumstances.