There seems to be a divide in the modern church between the “haves” and the “have nots”. The Church is now more of a social work organization than anything, but I don’t think that is necessarily a bad thing. There has been clear statements made by those in power that the lives of the vulnerable are disposable. In John 9, Jesus addresses this very idea. A group of people are speaking about a disabled man asking who was at fault for his disability: personal sin, generational sin, etc. Jesus then turns around and tells the people that all are holy and righteous, and that disability is made in the image of God. This is the kind of community we are meant to be. When the beloved community, often made of misfits, is challenged, that is when the church steps in and frankly, barks back at those who threaten the holiness of God’s children. The Church is there when policy states otherwise.
Dorothy Day tells a story of a man who was losing faith due to a difficult circumstance. This man seeks advice from a priest and the priest ministers to him by stating that God looks different in times of great struggle. I think that is what the church should be today: God taking on flesh and blood and showing up. God showing up with a casserole that will clog your arteries. God knocking at your door with diapers and formula when being a parent is too much. This is what the church is doing today. The boots on the ground work for intentional community changes lives.
I think of Jesus a lot, I think of Jesus in the context of a rocking chair. Jesus is the one that brings you a meal after you had a devastating miscarriage, Jesus is with you when you get a genetic diagnosis at 24, Jesus is with you on the wicker chair. Jesus is with you as you toil in public service, under pink- and blue-collar positions. Jesus is with you as you search the clearance at Walmart. Jesus is with you as you struggle to make ends meet. Jesus is with you when your boss is Jeff Bezos and Elon is your publicist.
This world does not make sense. I have not been alive long, I am just an elder Gen Z, but I have noticed that Jesus shows up when others don’t.
So, what now? I think the answer is to get hyper local. We were meant to live in hubs of people that love each other and provide for one another. Intentional community can go a long way. Personally, I think of my final year of undergrad. I am medically complex, I was living with a cancer survivor and together we ran several student organizations, including a sorority. During this time, we had a choice, and we decided our top priority was each other’s safety. We formed a tight knit quarantine circle that quite literally saved my life. I get teary eyed when I think of our holy moments together. I think of the beauty in imposing ashes in a dorm room. I am reminded of the holiness of communion being off brand goldfish and Gatorade. Yes, there is a time and place for organs, stained glass, and pews, but sometimes our scrappy seconds can feed the five thousand.
I stand here saying prayer has saved my life and sanity several times but let us remember moments of stillness with Christ are meant to give us clarity on how to act. Prayers mean nothing when your tummy hurts, or the earache won’t go away. Prayers have very little effect when you’re slapped with a medical bill that is astronomical. You know what does help? the ministry of your presence. Jesus never asked us to make ourselves bougie and stiff necked. Jesus opens us up to grace in our time of need. so go outside. unmute yourself. sit on a porch for the love of all that’s holy. please. in the kindest way possible, church, let’s repent of the communal sin of not showing up. We can lean into the ministry of Jesus and be present while also flipping a few tables.