“Listen, I will tell you a mystery! We will not all die,but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed:” (1st Corinthians 15: 51 and 52).
I know Paul is talking about the rising to life again in Christ Jesus. However, there is also a mystery in the change we go through when enlightened by sitting through thoughtful prayer with colleagues around the subject of Church mission. This is the experience I had last night here at clergy retreat.
The night before last night, I was again affirmed of my call to educate people, that is, to be a pastor-teacher. I love coaching people in “How” to think, but not what to think. Last night we talked about taking the Church “out” to others. This is not done to bring them in, although we would surely welcome them as part of our family. No, we should go out to those in need in order to “hear” exactly what they need, according to them. We should not go out to them to tell them what they need, for example food. We always want to feed people, even if their stomachs are full.
It was brought to my attention last night that if we only ask people in need, what they need, we might get answers like clothing, underwear, coats, toilet items, tampons, deodorant, even an occasional comic book to read in order to take their minds off their troubles. So the first thing should always be dialogue. Ask and they will tell us.
If we ask, we will be changed also. We will die to our old selves and be changed into the true loving servants that God in Christ Jesus wants us to be. It is not about making the needy need us; it is about us making them to be not needy. And then, for me at least, it is about more dialogue to get them to some kind of place of independence through education and training. I am reminded of the old saying, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for today; teach him to fish and you have fed him for life.” To this I add, that I must first ask him what his way of fishing might look like. That is, how might he think himself best suited to participate in community vocationally? Then I am best able to find the resources to get him “fishing,” his way.
The key is dialogue. Then, as Paul says, “in the twinkling of an eye,” the person once thought dead to society will be transformed. He or she will have dignity again. And he or she will have it in this life before that last trumpet will sound. Thank You Lord Jesus.
As we listen to what the Spirit is saying to us, let us live to love, to serve, and to teach, while pondering anew what the Almighty can do. John