Richard L. Floyd
"I am with you always!" - Matthew 28:20
When Jesus was saying goodbye to his eleven disciples at the mountain in Galilee to which he directed them, he told them to "make disciples of all nations, baptizing them . . . and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you."
And then he added this: "And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age." It was at the end of his address, but it wasn’t an after-thought.
He knew that to do the work he wanted them to do, to be the church, to speak in his name, to make disciples, and to teach them his way and his walk, they would need help. They would need a lot of help. His help.
And if you read the Book of Acts you will see how difficult the next chapter in the Christian story was.
That story continues with us, and like them, we still need a lot of help to be the church. But we often forget that. The world seems so broken, the needs so great, the resources so meager, that we despair for the future. As a pastor I found this especially true around stewardship time. Good, hard-working, dedicated lay leaders would succumb to fears about the church and its prospects.
Once, years ago, I got so frustrated with the despairing tone of a meeting, that I blurted out, "Our United Church of Christ Preamble says, "'Jesus Christ is the sole head of the church,' but the way you are talking you’d think it was Chicken Little."
This came to be known as my "Chicken Little speech," and evoked smiles from those who had heard it.
Yes, sometimes it seems as if the sky is falling, but it may be just an acorn. It has never been easy to be the church, and it never will be. Jesus didn’t promise it would be easy. What he did promise was this: "Remember, I am with you always."
Lord Jesus, our brother and savior, as we struggle to be your church, be our constant companion, by our side, behind us and before us, as you have promised. Amen.
Richard L. Floyd is Pastor Emeritus of First Church of Christ (UCC) in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, and author of A Course In Basic Christianity and When I Survey the Wondrous Cross: Reflections on the Atonement. He blogs at richardlfloyd.com.