Matthew 25 is hard work. It is complicated work. It is sometimes dirty, smelly, frustrating, inconclusive work. And it is, perhaps, the central call of the gospel. It is the way Jesus – who refuses to judge so many of the people he encounters – says that nations will be judged: by how deep their care stretched, how wide their welcome extended, how far their compassion flowed.
And today, when questions of justice, dignity, and decency are all-consuming, the church as a whole, and our church in particular, is invited to respond, rooted in that call. But besides being crucial and difficult, the work of being a faithful church can also feel overwhelming and exhausting.
The needs are so great: inside our building, and just outside our doors, and around the world. How do we hold all of that in our hearts, and take care of ourselves, too?
For Lent, we’re going to try. Kent Annan’s book Slow Kingdom Coming: Practices for Doing Justice, Loving Mercy, and Walking Humbly in the World outlines five spiritual disciplines that can sustain us for the long, slow work of bringing more peace, more love, more healing to our own lives and neighborhoods – maybe even beyond. There will be a few copies of the book in the library if you’d like to read along. But Sunday morning’s sermons will be rooted in the practices he describes, and on Wednesday nights, we’ll gather to engage in those practices together. All ages. And there will be food.
The practices Kent outlines are: attention, confession, respect, partnering, and truthing. As we move through this holy season together, I hope you’ll share the ways you’re participating in this slow kin(g)dom coming, and what you find life-giving in that participation. The sharing itself, I think, is one of those practices that renews and sustains us. I’m so grateful to be in this work with all of you.