A Hallmark of Ministry

A Hallmark of Ministry
Mother and son praying at the Nativity Church in Bethlehem

Matthew 8: 28 – 34

So here they are on the Sea of Galilee. On this day, Jesus and His disciples were crossing the water when it rose up, frightening everyone but Jesus. Once the storm calmed, they sailed on to a place called "the country of the Gadarenes."

No sooner had Jesus and his group set foot on the shore, than he was accosted by a couple of men who were not ordinary. They were naked and raving. They were outcasts from the community. The men were shunned, shamed, feared and oppressed. Local civil and religious laws had been brought to bear to make sure that the men had no access to their community, no basic human right, not even any clothing.

With little fanfare, but with spectacular results, Jesus’ actions help return the men to community. Their humanity is restored. Jesus uses the grace and power of God to overcome the most awful degradation. The love and grace extended by Jesus overcame the isolation imposed by society and the men are once again a part of the community—a hallmark of Jesus’ ministry.

Any lessons here for us? Look around: Who are the disconnected? Who are the outcasts? Who do we try to marginalize? The poor, undocumented workers, folks with AIDS, the homeless. The citizens of Gadara found out that Jesus wasn't subject to civil or religious laws. Grace and love are restorative, connecting us to community, relating us to God and to each other.

What should disciples be doing—maintaining the isolation of the outcast, or offering the grace of God to all of God’s children? Can we try to do what Jesus did? The path to discipleship is not without risk. The people of Gadara were initially astounded and curious, but that didn’t last long. Jesus was invited to leave. The cost of their kingdom was too great.

We hear the story about the stormy crossing all the time, but less about the reason for Jesus’ journey. Will we remember why Jesus crossed the Sea of Galilee?

With God’s help and by God’s grace, we will!

Prayer: God, help each of us to be a little more Christ-like in our journey, for we’re all loved by you. Amen.

Judi Nibbelink is President, Western Jurisdiction United Methodist Women.

Posted or updated: 12/14/2016 11:00:00 PM

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Each teen residing in the Near Northside neighborhood need to hear words of hope, love, and affirmation; mentors remind these youth who are often considered “the least of us” that they are, indeed, precious in God’s sight and created in Christ’s image. -Wesley Community Center, Houston, Texas.
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