Faith from the Margins to the Web: Last Sunday after Pentecost, Year B
Almighty and everlasting God, whose will it is to restore all things in your well-beloved Son, the King of kings and Lord of lords: Mercifully grant that the peoples of the earth, divided and enslaved by sin, may be freed and brought together under his most gracious rule; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?” Pilate replied, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?” Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.” Pilate asked him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”
One year ago, Faith from the Margins to the Web was a vision with a plan and the backing of my supporters at the Episcopal Evangelism Society. As we come full circle into this last Sunday of Year B which we commonly refer to as Christ the King (or “Reign of Christ”), my heart echoes this Gospel. And so, I offer my own reflection on the year, through the voices and images of Faith from the Margins to the Web.
“My Kingdom is not from this world.”
This year has reminded me time and time again that it is not the nature of this temporal world and our focus on needs and security which matters. It is the depth of our relationships with God and each other that open our eyes and hearts to the knowledge and love of God. I heard this from David, back in the summertime on the Third Sunday after Pentecost, when a Gospel passage reminded him of the way in which Christ is made known in those we love, whether they are here on this earth or have gone on before:
It’s like we have spiritual caretakers who are more than family. Let me tell you a little something. My mother left me, left this earth three years ago. She was a deep Christian, she served God. She made sure we were baptized, that we went to church and has our faith. It wasn’t just about the baptism or the going through the motions, though. She was Christ for me. And even though she isn’t here anymore, I think that in God that people are still with us…even if they aren’t here…someone who lives that deeply in Christ they still influence you. You still hear them when you stray. In Christ we keep those connections.
“For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth.”
Every week, I am richly blessed to hear the stories that testify to the truth of lives lived in some of the most challenging circumstances that I can imagine. What pulls me back to this project again and again, though, is the raw truth telling that people share whether they participate in the project one time or as often as possible. Sometimes, a glimpse of some pure truth comes through for me, either in our conversations or when we pray. I remember being knocked off guard to the point of tears when I invited someone in the group I was facilitating this summer to pray and it was Eugene, recovering from a recent stroke and still learning to form words again, who testified to the truth in our midst:
“Bow y’all heads” he began.
“Dear God, thank you for this assembly today, where we learned important lessons from each other. Each and every day, each and every hour God, teach us something. We may not want to hear it. But, teach us something anyhow. Keep us focused on your word in our hearts and our minds, and let us marinate on all this so that everything we’ve talked about may come to fruition. In our Lord’s name…
and all the people said…
“Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”
I hear God’s voice so often in the words of those who participate in Faith from the Margins to the Web, and is their images in which I see the face of Christ. The week that Willie and Raven met together and spoke of Blessed Assurance, I was fairly sure that God’s reign had come on this earth with the holiness of their shared conversation about the ministry they find unfolding in their lives. They realized that the Word always finds a way to speak:
“You know, it’s like we were talking about earlier. There really isn’t a wrong answer to interpreting the bible. It speaks to us in different ways. You know, I wouldn’t have thought of it the way that you did but I got so much out of that. It’s what you see every day and it made that stand out to me. That’s the thing about it, the Word always finds its way to speak.”
So, on this Sunday of the Reign of Christ, I give thanks for this year: the voices, the faces, the honest truth-telling and heartfelt sharing of the people of God. We have become a community, this Faith from the Margins to the Web group of ever-changing people who set aside the social margins of this world in favor of deep and abiding connection through discovering God in our midst.
The “Year B” pilot has rounded to its close, but we are not finished yet. Keep looking for those of us who have been a part of Faith from the Margins to keep allowing the Gospel to unfold in our midst, and look for weekly posts and new emergence of the Holy Spirit as this project unfolds and takes on new life in the parks, streets, and food pantries of the community where I live and serve. Year C brings us an emphasis on the Gospel according to Luke and undoubtedly many new moments of discovering Christ in each other through those words and stories. Keep reading, support us with a few dollars or a continuing gift if you feel led to do so. The movement of the Spirit can surely be felt in our midst, as God continues to be revealed from the margins, to the web.
Grace and Peace surround you, as we go forth into the world in love!
Photo from my recent ordination to the Sacred Order of Deacons (transitional)
November 10, 2018
*All photos reflect the heart and soul of Faith from the Margins to the Web photographer, Patience Salgado