Lynne Graham, senior warden at St. Paul’s, Montrose, wrote this reflection on the 2017 diocesan convention theme, “Jesus said, ‘I am the Way.'”
The Diocese of Bethlehem recently completed a pilgrimage that left us as a different people and a different diocese than when we began. The purpose of a pilgrimage is not to simply travel from one point to another, but rather to finish the journey as a transformed entity. As a diocese, we came together to share stories, to learn from one another, to find common ground and to “connect, communicate, and collaborate.” We completed our pilgrimage as a unified body of Christ rather than 58 individual parishes. So how do we continue the momentum at the conclusion of our pilgrimage? We need to keep moving, but which way?
One of my favorite short passages is from Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland”:
Alice came to a fork in the road. Which road do I take? she asked.
Where do you want to go? responded the Cheshire Cat.
I don’t know, Alice answered.
Then, said the Cat, it doesn’t matter.
To us individually, as parishes, and as a diocese, the way should matter. It does no good for us to head out, even if well intentioned, if God is not an integral part of the process. Jesus said, “I am the way.” I don’t believe Jesus is pointing us in a certain direction, but telling us that whatever direction we take needs to be through him. The way is not a road; it is a commitment to follow Jesus. The way is how we think and act. Psalm 25:9 says “He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.”
As I reflect on my years, I realize that, from the beginning, Jesus opened the way for me to meet the right people in the right place at the right time in my life for his purpose. I have been blessed with opportunities and resources along the way to be Jesus’ eyes, hands, and feet in this world.
As a diocese, we can accomplish anything if Jesus opens the way. Baptized with the Holy Spirit, we are each given the power to change the world one person at a time through Jesus’ love. Only by embodying Christ can we hope to realize our vision for a diocese that is Christ’s light in the world. We needn’t worry so much about the whats, hows, and whys of choosing a path. If Jesus is in it, the way will be made straight and clear.