Those who recently attended the second annual Matthew 25 Gathering caught hopeful glimpses of the irrepressible mission of God in the scores of ministries represented by North American Anglicans.
Christ is bringing about Shalom on the earth. Bryan, a participant in Matthew 25, baptizes his homeless friends in the City Hall fountain of his town. David, another Matthew 25 participant from Canada, whose homeless ministry is now homeless, has offered belonging and housing for the vulnerable Inuit of his large city. Vicky’s small parish fights for sanctity of life in a country that allows late term abortions. Jeff walks alongside at-risk youth through basketball, life-skills training, and gospel discipleship. Eva-Elizabeth shares life with special needs adults celebrating the small moments that make life beautiful. All these ministries are Anglican works of justice and mercy in North America.
For three days, one hundred other participants like these spent time swapping stories, praying together, listening to God’s call and heart, and tackling difficult issues that affect their gritty, challenging contexts. Our purpose was to connect with other practitioners on the ground, to grow as a learning community, and to be refreshed through retreat, silence, feasting, and prayer.
The following words tell the story of our time together: “Anglican Justice and Mercy Contending for Shalom.” We know that shalom is the way things are supposed to be, but instead we live in a sin-shattered world of pain and sorrow. We therefore proclaim and embody the good news of the kingdom among “the least of these,” where the mercies and justice of God shall reign. This is hard work. Because hardship and trials are abundant while progress and resources can be scarce, we must contend for it. Shalom costs something: the cross of Christ and our own, as we take it up and follow Him with defiant hope. Finally, we do so as Anglicans. We have an Anglican community of practitioners, who are heirs of a rich tradition of contemplative-activism, and sacramental spirituality.
Theologians, historians, canons, priests, and others led us to deeper reflection on these themes. Archbishop Beach offered vision for the ACNA’s core value for God’s heart for “the least of these” and blessed practitioners in freedom to continue their work knowing they have a place in our Anglican tribe.
We are contemplative activists, reflective practitioners, a people of the Book, who love sacramental living. We have given ourselves to the broken places of North America and face not only personal sin and heartache but also systems and institutions that oppress and damage. Our only hope is in Jesus, the one we encounter in the hungry, the naked, the sick, the imprisoned, the stranger. It is a good and beautiful thing to do so in the company of our Anglican family.
Andrea, a participant of Matthew 25, supports chaplains in prisons where the incarcerated can know true freedom in Christ and flourish despite circumstances. Through legal advocacy, Jason, also a participant in the Matthew 25 Gathering, serves hard-working immigrants finding a new home in a land of safety, plenty, and freedom. Alan’s parish is plowing fields in their suburban city for refugees to farm. On the stories go….may we keep telling, re-telling, and telling anew how Christ is bringing about Shalom on the earth.
by Christine Warner