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Reflection – Being part of God’s story

Usually, when I think about valuing the one, I reflect on the call for me to be more like Jesus (less like me) and to do what I can to help those in need, to speak for those who are silenced or powerless, to protect those who are at risk and to do this in a personal way actually walking through the world with my eyes and my heart open to the individuals around me.

As Jesus reached out to Zacchaeus in the tree and the Samaritan women at the well, speaking and acting with love, I am called to actually connect to and serve people who are not like me, who are not easy to serve, who are not perhaps the ‘good guys’ in the story. Mostly I do a fair to middling job of this at best, and my failures are quite often because of fear. 

I have learnt that it is often easier to do this work as a team, as part of something greater. Several years ago – walking through the back streets of Atlanta from our hotel to a corner store to buy some decent coffee and a few pieces of fruit, my husband and I saw a man walking towards us at speed from a lean-to in a park. I will be honest and say that I held my breath.

He saluted my husband, who was wearing a camouflage baseball cap and asked if we had money. We didn’t have US cash but said we were going to the shops and asked if we could get him something. He asked for a Gatorade, and when we got to the shops, we grabbed him some fried chicken and southern potato salad – because we were in Atlanta, after all! When we came back (I thought he looked a little surprised), he kind of invited us into his space, and we sat and talked for some time. He was ex-US armed forces and facing some mental health challenges, and America can be a very hard place to be if you’re struggling in this way. I noticed that his clothes and other belongings were incredibly neat even though they were dirty; I noticed that he was bright of mind and very kind, and almost old-school respectful. I noticed that the time we spent was more valuable than the food we bought. I had the time to notice these things because I was enabled by the 6ft 5 husband that changed this situation for me and made me feel safe enough to be kind…. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone, it is the same God at work (1Corinthians 12:6 NIV)

Over the weekend, I was retold the story of Joseph of Arimathea, and I thought about the value of the one from another angle. I realised that, of course, I am the one. I am the sheep who does sheep things and finds myself lost, hoping that I can lie down in pastures green for just a bit longer even when the journey that the Shepherd leads me on actually takes me on rocky paths or through the shadows. I am the one who is found and carried back home.

And as that one – that very blessed and privileged one – what can I do for God?

Joseph is not, in any way, a main character in the story, but he is mentioned in every gospel as he steps into the task of burying Jesus after the crucifixion. He chose to use his privilege and influence to move God’s purposes forward – even when it wasn’t necessarily safe or easy. He took personal responsibility for the Body of Christ when it was beaten, bloody and broken, when other supporters were turning away and when it didn’t look like he was on the ‘winning side’. He gave up his family burial place which then became the place of miracle, resurrection and redemption.

There are so many ways for each of us to be part of God’s story, and I think most of them will be surprising …


Rebecca Riggs is the Synod Communications Manager. 

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