Greetings! I hope all is well with you.

Dear Congregation,

Greetings! I hope all is well with you. I’ve noticed that the usual and accepted greeting these days is to inquire about the other person’s health and well-being. Almost always, it seems that the polite thing to do is to greet people with the words, “Hello. How are you?” I sometimes wonder if the person asking the question is really interested in a truthful answer, or if the words have become a meaningless formula. I wonder how many of us answer, “I’m fine, thanks,” when we really aren’t.

Sunday’s Gospel lesson, Mark 1:21-28, is the account of Jesus’ healing of a man possessed by an unclean spirit. In this case, the healing takes place in the temple where Jesus is teaching. He is interrupted by the man who cries out to him, beginning with the question, “What Have You To Do With Us, Jesus of Nazareth?”

I find that question to be an incredibly important one for us to be asking, today and every day, as individuals and as a church. Just think of the occasions in our personal lives when we might use that question to guide us in our response to people and situations, in our families, at work, in all interactions with others, and with the wider world, as each of us makes the many decisions we’re called to make in the living of our lives. “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?” The way we respond to that question, in words and actions, tells the truth as to whether the answer is “nothing,” “everything” or something in between.

Just think of the occasions on which it could be used in the life of the church. That question could serve as our yardstick for measuring each response to matters that require a decision. In Church Council, Trustees, Board of Christian Education, CCC Women , Deacons, Mission Outreach, and Congregational meetings it would help us focus on what our faithful response should be.

 “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?” we’d ask as we plan programs, discuss how finances will be used, debate mission priorities, think about how we might care for each other, set future goals for investing time, resources, and energy.   There are so many opportunities for that question to be asked in the life of a congregation. The most acceptable answer, of course, is   that what Jesus taught and lived, and who Jesus is, should have everything to do with what the church is doing in every area of its ministry.

Answers to questions like the greeting, “How are you?” should be meaningful and important to the one asking. The answer to the question, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?” is of infinite and eternal importance. May God give us the grace to answer honestly, “Everything!”.

In Christ’s love.

Pastor Candy

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