Scripture: Matthew 28:16-20
Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable to you, O Lord our Rock and our Redeemer. Amen.
I came across a quote this week that stirred me to deep reflection: a fictional literary character has an internal argument with herself. Considering her next steps in life, she recognizes huge political, social, and personal risk; yet more than her own life and the lives of her people are at stake as she struggles on. Whether or not the author intended it to be so, I found deep connection to forgiveness, resurrection, and renewal. “Believe,” one part of her mind says. Another part urges: “But belief is a choice – and courage the will to act.” To my theological lenses, that has deep ramifications for our journey of the life of faith.
Will she act? Will she set her course forever pitting herself against hundreds of years of racism, rediscovering the gifts of her kind; learning and teaching them to the few survivors of her people scattered across the land? Ultimately, yes, she chooses to do so, and the world is turned upside down with the consequences. But she is true to her calling and her journey of faith. “Belief is a choice – and courage is the will to act.” Her courage sets the stage for major change, and like a domino effect, life is never the same. Remind you of anyone? Let me ask you this: As believers in Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, have we the courage and the will to act out our faith?
In today’s text from the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus gives what has been called the Great Commission, or the first and primary tasks given to his followers: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Mt. 28: 19-20)
So speaks the resurrected Jesus, meeting with the disciples out in the Galilean wilderness, where there are few Hebrew people and many gentiles, so many in fact that Galilee was called the land of the Gentiles. Out there, coming from the mouth of Jesus, we hear this command to go to all nations and baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit – a three-fold formula we still use today when baptizing anyone into the faith, either as infants or adults who have not previously been baptized and now profess belief in Jesus Christ, wishing to become active members of the Christian faith. But there is more:
“Earlier in his ministry, Jesus sent out the Twelve and gave them the authority, … (10:1) to cast out unclean spirits, heal the sick, and proclaim the good news that the kingdom of heaven has come near (10:7). Jesus had been doing the same things preceding this commissioning of his closest followers. The only distinguishing mark of his ministry was teaching; Jesus did it, the disciples did not. In this final commissioning of the disciples, Jesus widens the audience—from Israel to all nations—and adds teaching to the charge of all of his followers.”
It is rare to see a Trinitarian formula in the early texts of our faith. In fact it wasn’t until a couple hundred years later that theological reflection on this and a few other passages of scripture led to the development of the doctrine of the Trinity, now a part of a lengthy list of theological doctrines about which sages within the church and academia alike have deliberated for eons. Discussion around the Trinity is actually still going on, receiving quite a thorough review and revitalized interest in recent years.
What can we glean from such rumination for our own understandable use? Scripturaly, disciples from this point on are asked to go out, make more disciples for all peoples in all lands, confident in the power of their relationship experienced with Jesus, and his within the Triune God, healing, proclaiming, and now teaching.
Commentator Stephen Boyd says, “Jesus invites us into the mutuality and power of the divine life…He promises his presence and a power that does not coerce but serves and persuades.”
Contemporary theologians Cynthia Bourgeault, Richard Rohr, and William Paul Young have all recently come out with material on the Trinity that focuses on the relationship between the parts of the whole and what that means for all other relationships. I confess they have some fascinating – potentially transformative reflections. One gleaning from their deep reflection points out that at the center of the mystery of the Trinity, one might even say its soul, is a love of mutual self-emptying; a radical template for reconsidering our own faithful journeys of personal and communal relationships with one another.
If each one of us began to practice this kind of love, how would that affect the church? This community? Inter-religious life? The World? Personally, if I could actually enter into that kind of relational living as a way of life, would I finally begin to reflect more clearly a life patterned after Christ? More importantly, is that not our goal as Christians?
May all glory be unto the One who lived, died, and rose again for us, even him who is the Christ, our way, our truth, our life. Amen.
 Marcellas, Diana. The Sea Lark’s Song, Tom Doherty Associates, LLC, New York, NY. 2002.
 Boyd, Stephen B. Feasting on the Word—Year A David L. Bartlett and Barbara Brown Taylor, General Editors. Copyright © 2010 Westminster John Knox Press; Louisville, Kentucky; All rights reserved. Used by permission. Accordance edition hyper-texted and formatted by OakTree Software, Inc. Version 2.0
Questions for Reflection
Review how you have learned about Earth throughout your life, giving thanks for each of your teachers and guides. In what ways does your way of living reflect gratitude for Earth? How might you enhance your care for God’s creation?
Household Prayer: Morning
God of the living, from whom all blessings flow, I welcome a new day with thanksgiving because you have cared for me through the night. Wherever you send me today, whomsoever I meet, be in my going and my meeting. Grant me wisdom to cherish what you have given and generosity to share. Fill me with the Spirit so that I may show courage, kindness, and a sense of humor in the face of the day’s hardships. In Christ’s peace, may I withhold harsh judgment against those who would do me harm. Show me ways that I may serve you throughout the day and into the night so that, waking or sleeping, I live for you; in the name of the Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Household Prayer: Evening
Ancient of days, these hours of light are passing into darkness. Thank you for being with me. Let me not forget the joys you put in my life today. Send your Spirit to fill my memories with comfort and peace as I prepare for the night. Where I have failed to please you, forgive me for the sake of your Son. If I have been of help to others, let them give thanks to you. May all night songs praise you; may we evening singers rejoice in your eternal glory. And I will celebrate with your whole creation in the name of Jesus Christ when the new day that you are bringing dawns. Amen.