Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the historic one-year lectionary.
During the recent pandemic crisis many Christian organizations, particularly church ministries, have been eager to reinvent themselves. I’m sure this has applied to many other types of organizations which have always worked with a model involving face to face gatherings. Since most religious groups are nearly entirely dependent on this sort of gathering, it has made them extremely busy.
A friend complimented me on what I have done with Wittenberg Door Campus Ministry, how while I was in quarantine due to some travels of family members, missing a few days of work before a regularly scheduled break, I managed to put virtual meetings into operation by the end of that week and how they mostly ran relatively smoothly. He may or may not have used the word “reinvented” and I seem to remember something about “making a name for yourself.” It was a kind conversation and I appreciate that kind of feedback. After all, we would all like to be told that we did something outside of our comfort zone and that it came off well.
However, the idea also reminds me of our Old Testament passage for this week, from Genesis 11. Here the people, as society tended to drift up the Fertile Crescent, decided to make a name for themselves. They wanted to show their superiority and establish a lasting monument to their ingenuity. It would provide unity for them. So they took the tools at their disposal and began the work of building.
What’s the problem that God sees in their work of making a name for themselves? He knows that, even with the best of intentions, humans are sinful. They will fall into evil, they will use the power they establish for their own ends, which always end up including harm to themselves and others. Whenever we make a name for ourselves, we exalt ourselves to a position that rightfully only belongs to God. And it belongs to God because he alone is free from sin and evil.
The people wanted to avoid being scattered throughout the earth. That was the way they planned to establish themselves. So God scattered them, with different languages and, rather quickly, different cultures and traditions. Rather than being a unified and powerful people who would use that centralized power for evil, they became less unified and less powerful peoples who would serve to keep each other’s power in check.
As we approach Pentecost, we recall that God’s gracious work in Acts chapter 2 was an undoing of the scattering of Babel. It was a way of pulling the nations back together, but this time in Christ, rather than in their own power. As people unified by Jesus’ death and resurrection, by his forgiveness and grace, God’s people can dwell together so as to bring God glory and praise. They can be transformed into a people of peace.
Did I reinvent myself? Not really. Did I reinvent Wittenberg Door Campus Ministry? Actually, no. It was much more like having a change of meeting location and putting up a new sign to show people how to find it. Same old thing - being brought together by Christ for the good of the community. And we’re getting close, as I write this, to considering face to face meetings again. May God be glorified, as nothing is impossible for him.
If this brief meditation was helpful to you, I hope you will check out the other materials on our website at www.WittenbergCoMo.com and consider supporting us.