Jesus got a little peeved when his followers were criticized: “Why do your disciples not live according to the traditions of the elders?” he was asked, because they did not observe the hand-washing ritual of the scribes and Pharisees. Jesus reminded them that external observances or rituals (or lack thereof) don’t mark one as impure or unworthy – or even as a righteous follower of the gospel for that matter. It is what goes out from within a person, from the heart, from our motivations. We are known by our authentic efforts to do the right things in the time and place where we find ourselves. This means each of us must spend a little time knowing ourselves and our gifts. Strengthening those gifts and bringing them into the world is outreach. Living the gospel is “out there,” not “in here.” We are the church when we live in ways which move our community and world toward the shalom God desires for us. We respect the traditions of our faith, hold them deeply, and we are unafraid to take new steps to live a gospel for today.
If you haven’t already taken time to think and pray about the “Be the Church” sign outside our front door – I invite you to do that, and soon. Because being the church is so much more than hand washing.
Peace and grace to you in all things,