June 07, 2017
By Maxwell Grant.
Scripture: Matthew 28:19 (NRSV)
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...
When I was in seminary, I was friendly with a visiting scholar who was also a Franciscan brother. If you didn’t know him, you might have guessed by his notably gentle demeanor, and by the fact that he always wore brown. Not the distinctive brown robes of the Franciscan order, for the most part, but the next best thing—brown jeans, brown shirts, brown sweater vest, etc. They were robes without being robes. (“I think St. Francis might have liked that,” he said once with a smile.)
Ever since then, I have wondered what it would be like if all Christians adopted a particular color—maybe joining the Franciscans in brown, or perhaps instead a deep blue, like the Medieval images of Mary’s cape, or the wonderful red of Pentecost. Or why choose? We could go with rainbow. Just so long as there begins to be the semblance of uniform.
Beyond any one color, what would it be like if we Christians literally wore our commitment on our sleeves?
We would always be able to find each other. It would cut through a lot of preliminaries. Sometimes that can be important.
More to the point, the world would see us coming.
There’s a measure of accountability in that, which would probably turn out to be a good thing. (“Hey, I thought you rainbow people were supposed to be more patient, and stuff”….)
After all, when Matthew’s Gospel tells the story of the Great Commission, it is a summons to all of us who would follow Jesus to proclaim the Kingdom with our lips and with our lives, wherever we may go. It’s less a matter of telling people what they ought to think than it is about showing them what it is to be truly alive—sharing with them how God is active in the world, and how they might come to see that for themselves, and to know it in their own hearts and lives.
Looking at us, God’s transforming love should be as clear as day — as visible even as a rainbow vest.
The most casual observer should be able to see it in us. They really shouldn’t have to look that hard. And it would do us good to remember that they’re looking—that our continuing growth in the life of faith is important for God’s purposes, as well as ours.
Lord, you call us to bring your message of love and hope to all the world. Teach us to bear your message, not only through our words, but especially through our lives, and may being held accountable for our faith ultimately prove to be a source of delight and joy. Amen.
The Rev. R. Maxwell Grant is senior pastor of Second Congregational Church of Greenwich.
June 07, 2017