Among the lessons shared by Dr. Imani Perry at this week’s MLK Day Convocation was the observation that, though often ignored by a Disneyfied version of King’s legacy that isolates him as a lone visionary, the gains of the Civil Rights Movement were the product of sustained grassroots organizing by people who largely remained out of the spotlight as well as the critical contributions of unexpected allies.
We are truly better together.
For a student of the Bible, this should come as no surprise.
As Matthew describes the beginning of Jesus’ mission, he tells of Jesus’ baptism and temptation in the wilderness – events in which the identity of Jesus as the Son of God is declared and then made evident through his resistance to all of the forces of evil.
Jesus leaves the wilderness a victor.
One might imagine that Jesus would continue in this trajectory of unilateral action and march on the halls of power, a supernatural, yet real-life action hero, sworn to defeat all that is wrong with creation and human society and restore all that is right.
Almost immediately, the story takes an unexpected turn. Getting wind of John the Baptist’s imprisonment, Jesus makes a strategic withdrawal to the hill country of Galilee, well out of the center of action in Roman Judea. It is not his agenda, however, to lay low until the trouble has blown over. Rather, he goes to Galilee to declare the arrival of the reign of God, the revelation of divine authority in its fullest expression.
And how is this full expression of the power and authority of God revealed?
It is realized in the gathering together of an unlikely fellowship of people – four fishermen and a host of others from all over the place, into a community. There, he meets their needs of healing, teaches them the nature of true blessing and calls them into life as agents of the reign of God.
While it’s easy, for those who know how this story goes, to see the calling of Simon and Andrew, James and John as a summons into the lives of missionaries and evangelists, that will not come until later. For now, their calling is to be together, with Jesus and all the others who are drawn into his circle.
They are better together.
Even at the end of Matthew, when Jesus sends out the eleven with his famous “Great Commission,” he promises them his continual presence. He will be with them until the end of time. To be is to be together.
Academic work frequently feels like a solo project. Even those of us who are not students are often led to believe that we will make what we make of ourselves on our own. Yet none of us will make the most of our gifts flying solo. None of us can make the difference we’re hoping for, lead the lives of significance we dream of, make the change we want to see, on our own. We are always better together.
This togetherness requires patience with ourselves and others. It requires that we recognize not only our own giftedness, but that of others, not as competition, but as a complement.
God has called us into life. It is a life together, with God and one another.
It is a life of blessing.
Jan. 22, 2020
- Archives of Devotional Writings from our Pastoral Staff
- “Some Lent!”
- (Your vocation here) of people
- A Point of Privilege
- A season of anticipation
- Advent = Hope
- All will be well
- Are we willing to cross the road for one another?
- Better Together
- Can we learn to be happy?
- Carrying the COVID Cross
- Come and See
- Did Jesus really suffer?
- Doing without in a life of plenty
- Don’t miss this moment
- Exiles with Vision
- Fear not!
- Feeling at Home
- Finding Purpose in the Journey
- Finding Words for Times Like These
- Forgiving others – and ourselves
- Getting ahead with Jesus
- Getting down on Jesus’ level
- Have yourself a merry little Christmas — somehow
- Holy Week and Taking Out the Trash
- Holy Week: The aid station late in the semester
- Hopes & Dreams vs Life in the Wilderness
- How glad we’ll be if it’s so
- I almost slipped
- In a time of uncertainty, these things are certain
- In praise of plans B … C … D …
- In Praise of Skeptical Disciples
- In the midst of grief, God will bring life
- Is there such a thing as being too forgiving?
- It’s a Three Day Weekend!
- It’s In the Bag
- It’s What’s Happening
- Killing off our future selves
- Lessons in fire building
- Let us work for real wellness in our communities
- Life Is a Highway
- Lilies and leaves and whatever else is beautiful
- Living in the Present
- O Lord, you know I hate buttermilk
- Of Fear and Failure
- On Christian Unity: When we’re not one big happy church
- On the Bucket List
- Pray and Let God Worry
- Preparing for the world to be turned rightside up
- Recovering from an Epic Fail
- Reformation calls for examination
- Remembering among the forgetful
- Seeing beauty in brokenness
- Signs of Love
- Starting Small
- Still in the storm
- Taking a Break from the Relentless
- Talking ourselves into it
- Thankfulness leads to joyfulness
- The Art of Holy Week
- The Funny Business of Forgiveness
- The Greatest of These is Love
- The Magi: Exemplars of Faith and Learning
- The Power of Small Conversations
- The Power of Taking a Sabbath
- The Spiritual Gift of Hindsight
- This can’t be done alone
- To be known
- You will be in our prayers this summer of 2020
- Ventures of which we cannot see the ending
- We had hoped
- What do you do with your anger?
- What is your base reality?
- What to do after you find your voice
- What to do on the day after
- What we know and what we don’t know
- When bad things happen
- When joy and sadness live together
- When the promise of resurrection is hard to believe
- When you offer up your broken cup
- Where God will be found
- Where is the good shepherd carrying you?
- Wilderness Journeys
- Year-end time management: Keeping the main thing the main thing
- Your Valpo roots will help you grow into your future