Advent Reflection, Sunday, December 8, 2019
By: Ashley Cameron
Recently, I attended a retreat at Shrine Mont with the Commission on Ministry. I won’t bore you with the breakdown of the commission and committee structure of the Diocese of Virginia. All you need to know is that the retreat consisted of priests, deacons, and lay people who in some way have an impact on the discernment and formation of new clergy in the Episcopal Church. The theme of the 24 hours was “the Good News of God in Christ.” We as the leaders and people of the Church have good news to share. But how are we doing that?
At one point, we were asked to imagine an unchurched neighbor approaches you and asks you, “Who is Jesus? And what does he have to do with me?” Then we were asked to share with someone in the room, “What words would you use in response to that person?”
Now, stop for a moment. How would you answer that question?
In all honesty, I was super uncomfortable with the question at first. And I truly didn’t know how to answer. Most of my millennial friends are “unchurched” and trust me, I never bring up this guy, Jesus, with them. But they also never ask.
But in today’s Gospel, we have John the Baptist, the guy who eats locusts and honey, and definitely doesn’t brush his hair or wear shoes, shouting to anyone who would listen about preparing the way of the Lord. And people flock to him to hear this good news. “One who is more powerful than I is coming after me.”
Being a Christian is believing that the word became flesh and dwells among us. Isn’t part of our role as Episcopalians to “reclaim” Jesus? I recently heard the Presiding Bishop say, “I have had the experience of reading the Gospels and then listening to the characterizations of Christianity in the public sphere. And just feeling and knowing that there’s a disconnect between what I’m reading about Jesus and what I’m hearing about the Christian faith… where I’ve said, ‘Wait a minute. That’s not the Jesus that I’m hearing in these Gospels.’”
Coming back to the retreat exercise, people’s answers sounded like – the embodiment of Christ; a life-giving, loving, liberating Jesus; the living God who came and walked among us; the one who came and listened to our stories and then shared the story of God’s love.
So in this time of preparation for this baby Jesus to be born, ask yourself how you would answer that question. Who is Jesus to you? How do you share the good news of Christ?