Excess Verbiage: Strangers

The Great Commandment on a Mission: Matthew 28: 16-20

I've gotten behind in writing down those thoughts that could keep a sermon going for many, many more minutes. So here is one thing that's been chewing on me for the past few weeks.

What happens when the Great Commandment (love God, love people) goes on a mission?

In preparation for preaching on Matthew 28: 16-20, I had listened to one of my favorite podcasts, The Pulpit Fiction Podcast.  One of the host’s shared this insight with which I, in normal fashion, agreed and disagreed whole-heartedly.

Anja Wülfing, Moorente. Oil on Photo, 20 x 13 cm, 2016

Anja Wülfing, Moorente. Oil on Photo, 20 x 13 cm, 2016

Jesus is commissioning his followers to go out and save the world. Right now churches are hoping that people will come and save the church. They’ll come and be good church members, good volunteers. Jesus didn’t tell the disciples to go out and build great churches. He told them to go out and make disciples.
— https://www.pulpitfiction.com/notes/trinitya

Powerful Ambivalence? Or, not and either/or

I couldn’t agree more. 

               Wait for it…

I couldn’t disagree more.

I love these oil paintings on vintage photos by Anja Wulfing.  The mixture of tradition, the expected, and monochrome with a colorful avian relative (i.e. bird) is both jarring and humorous.  In our churches I wonder how willing we are to welcome a colorful and unexpected messenger of God?  In case you want to do additional meditating on God and birds, there's Jesus' baptism and the dove.  But there's also Garrison Keillor's description of Val Tollefson's attempts to get people more involved in church, with Gospel Birds.  Perhaps Wulfing is on to something.  

The church needs outsiders to save the church

We do need outsiders to save the church.  Jesus, in fact comes to us as an outsider.  But not on our terms to satisfy our agenda.   I am confident that Jesus would bring joyful challenge, creativity, and spiritual and intellectual parables that would leave us unsure of correct answers.

I am left feeling challenged about welcoming the stranger.  Do we have the opportunity to remain connected to our vintage monochrome traditions? Does the flamboyant feathered family member eventually add color to us all? Or, do we dampen the hues and turn our new found family members simply into shades of gray?

 

(The images for this blog are from Anja Wulfing’s Instagram page. Wulfing’s images bring “the stranger”, in this case birds, into the family. Read about her work also at: thisiscolossal.com.)