A Cast of Emancipated Characters

These texts, taken in sum, imagine the church. It is not an institution, but rather a community of folk who are propelled by God’s own spirit, situated in Jesus’ own narrative, and alive in the world in alternative ways. The sequence of texts in Luke’s gospel gives us character sketches of the kind of folk who are drawn to Jesus: The son raised from the dead (7:11-17), the woman of the street who enacted generosity (7:36-8:3), the possessed man now restored to sanity (8:26-39), and the would-be disciple who felt reluctance (9:51-62).

These are unlikely characters. But they people our imagination, because all of them are attracted to Jesus and all of them are summoned to radical and deep change.

Pentecost is a time to reimagine and re-enact the church as a movement that is unrestrained by old patterns or by the rule of fearful authorities. It is no wonder that the gospel readings are matched to Galatians. In that letter Paul is aflame with the freedom that Jesus gives out beyond all business as usual. And now our society is in deep need of folk who have energy beyond business as usual. Folk gathered around the gospel are likely candidates for just such a vocation.

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Sojourners Magazine June 2010
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