The story is told of a janitor who worked at a synod office that was struggling with a multitude of issues. He went from office to office, picking up the garbage, listening to person after person mumble and complain about each other and the problems they were facing. He got to the end of the hall turned back towards the offices and shouted, “You mean he died for this?” Like so many of the parables, the story remains unfinished. We don’t know how the synod office responded but those spoken words always haunt me during Holy Week.
In this most profound week of the Christian year, as we come face to face with our Lord, we must be moved, we must be affected by the love that emanates from Our Saviour as he washes feet, dies on the wood of the cross and rises to glory on Easter Sunday.
At the Easter Vigil or perhaps on Easter Day you will have an opportunity to renew your Baptismal vows. You will be reminded that you are baptized into Christian ministry and service. Personal issues rather than those of the gospel sidetrack many of us as we proceed on our Christian journey.
Our Christian ministry means that we bear the cross. The scope, the type, the kind of ministry does not matter. We seem to be stuck looking at ministry with only a need to calculate the results and prove its effectiveness. When we evaluate our ministries (whether as individuals or institutions) we often focus on measurable results and outcomes, but if we are to be one with the world’s sufferings we need first to be present with them: to care, to suffer, to help bear the cross and the passion. Compassion means literally to suffer with or together. We need to see in each other, in our shared brokenness and vulnerability, the image of God. The temptation is always to focus only on solving problems and finding solutions — that is the temptation Christ faced in the desert — to be relevant, spectacular and powerful. To be a baptized follower of Christ is to be where suffering is — to be one with the weak, the estranged, the oppressed and the downtrodden.
The Easter message of hope, life and new beginnings is made real and manifest when we see, hear, and embody the gift of God’s love in our ministry and relationships with others. All of us are called, empowered and marked as Christ’s own forever in the faith of our Resurrected Lord. Yes, he did die for this!
The Most Reverend Andrew S. Hutchison
The Anglican Church of Canada
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