In order to be ambassadors of reconciliation, bearing witness to the gospel of Christ’s love in our world. We learn how to release control of the message, in order to become the message of hope through reconciliation. No longer seeing ourselves as the privileged holder of power over “other”, we gain the ability to listen and share our convictions through a conversation.
When we sit down at a table with a person unlike us, we are engaging in the work of reconciliation. If we dare to break bread and share a meal, we may find ourselves in the midst of transformation. Similar to the early followers of Jesus in Rome or Corinth, pre Christendom. Before the empire held the church to the center of society and Christians settled into the comfort of an earthly kingdom. At the time after Jesus’ death when followers were opening their homes to passers by, on their way to the city. The message of Jesus was shared during a meal, in a home or in the market place.
The call we hear from Paul in the scripture today, is to be proud, in verse 12, of the people who are persuading others to live a radical lives of following Jesus through the mission of reconciliation. Here we see the church as the message of reconciliation to the people of Corinth. Christ’s love is the compelling impulse in life to act out radical faith with others in our neighborhood.
We may hear this radical call, that God is all ready reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting peoples sins against themselves in verse 19. (pause) And yet we live in a world where horrific acts of injustice, violence, and corruption are done. We may ask, how could there be a God, let alone a reconciling Christ when these things take place. May I suggest it is precisely in these moments when we hear the call to be present in a place where we are ambassadors of reconciliation?
Recently, I had the opportunity to serve alongside Jenifer for 3 evenings of coffee and conversation in Souderton. These took place in a coffee shop in Souderton during the season of Lent. During the conversations with people in the neighborhood we discussed issues of faith from the themes of the Sermon on the Mount. This sermon is when Jesus calls his followers to see the kingdom of God in an upside down reality. Where those who mourn are comforted and those who are meek inherit the earth in Matthew 5.
It was in these moments I witnessed an ambassador of reconciliation in a Post-Christian society. Where Jenifer set the table of intimacy and vulnerability through a posture of compassion to the others in the room. Trusting the spirit of Christ in all of us, she invited the other’s to share around broken places in their lives and this community.
Then four weeks ago I had the opportunity to witness Jenifer again creating hospitality through her presence in a block party in down town Souderton. Where a group of radical followers of Jesus had the audacity to believe celebrating a town was in and of itself a generous act of hope. Where over 1000 neighbors jumped on blow up kids games, broke bread with hotdogs, shared the cup with rootbeer floats and sat down at the table during a local concert and art show.
Someone asked me after the event, called Celebrate Souderton; the block Party. Did you have a message? Perplexed by the simplicity of this question I said no… Unsatisfied with my answer I was reminded by Jenifer that the event was the message. That simply being present, offering a gift, and our best art is an expression of our faith in a reconciling Christ through the people of God.
What I see in Jenifer Erikson Morales, is a follower of Jesus much like the one Paul is asking the listener to be proud of for their visible acts of reconciliation when no one is watching and no one is paying for their service. I see a willingness to move from the center to the margins of society where the people with out a voice are given space to be heard. For example the work she does with local mothers in her neighborhood.
At this time in society when churches are realizing they may have lost their prophetic voice due to the shift in the way people perceive Christianity. We have a leader emerging with a deep trust in the one who’s name is Jesus, the one who invited his early followers to walk with him from town to town, until he enter the city of power, where his message threatened the very system of control. Calling people to follow Christ, so that they may have life, reconciled with God now and forever more.
I see Jennifer as a leader in the Post-Christendom church when we begin to rediscover hope- a vision of what society will be like when the kingdom is fully present-and advocate on behalf of those who are oppressed by the current system.
“A church that knows it can no longer control how history will turn out, what people believe, or how they behave can revert to its original calling to bear witness to the gospel.” Stuart Murray