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A New Year’s Revolution!

Written by Mark Van Steenwyk : December 30, 2007

Jesus makes me uncomfortable. And one of his most disquieting “diatribes” is found in Matthew 25:31-46, which is incidentally the lectionary passage for New Year’s Day.

What kind of sicko chooses Matthew 25:31-46 for the New Year’s Day lectionary passage? I want an inspiring passage of new beginnings (like the story of Zacchaeus)! But in their disturbing wisdom, the minds that shaped the Revised Common Lectionary draw our attention to the hopeful-yet-dark words of Matthew 25:31-46. This is the parable of the sheep and the goats. This is that nifty bit of Scripture that informs us that whatever we do (or don’t do) for the least-of-these, we do (or don’t do) for Jesus–the former being heavenly-sheep, the latter being hellish-goats.

What better place, really, to begin the year? In Matthew’s gospel, this is the last formal teaching of Jesus before his last supper; this is his closing statement. And I’m convinced that if every church and every cluster of Christians throughout this vast land were to grapple with this passage and put a little of it into practice, we would see a revival. We would see transformation. We would not only look more like Jesus, but understand the heart of Jesus in ways we never expected.

And so that is what I’m shooting for in 2008: to encourage Christians everywhere to dive into Matthew 25 and embrace–if only a little–the practice of hospitality.

One way that I want to encourage this in 2008 is by putting more energy into Christarchy! Christarchy! is a network of “support groups” for the Jesus Revolution. We are a growing network of people who want to integrate the teachings of Jesus into our lives.

For our January gatherings, we’ll be exploring the practical implications of Matthew 25:31-46. If we take these words of Jesus seriously, we’ll spark a New Year’s Revolution. And we invite you to join us in the Revolution.

New groups are starting up. Our goal for 2008 is to have Christarchy! gatherings in at least 10 new cities. We’ve got several groups in the works in the Minneapolis area. And we’ve got interest in Seattle, Washington and Rochester, Minnesota.

It is easy to start your own group. Visit www.Christarchy.com for more information. You can use that site to register, create a group of your own, invite people to join your group, get ideas for how to do a group, and to communicate with your group.

Why be a part of a Christarchy group? If you’ve ever wanted to go deeper into the practical implications of Jesus’ teachings but have felt alone or unsupported, Christarchy! is for you. Or perhaps you’ve taken some steps, and want to share what you’ve learned. Or maybe you’re curious, but don’t know where to begin?

Let’s begin this year right. Even if you aren’t interested in starting a Christarchy! group, I’d like to challenge you to gather your friends sometime in January simply to look at Matthew 25:31-46 and have a serious talk about how you can support one another to put it into practice in 2008.

And if you’re willing to take the challenge, join Christarchy! and/or drop a note here so that people near you can perhaps join in what you’re doing.

***

By the way, if you aren’t too far away from Minneapolis (or if you were willing to help pay for the costs of long-distance travel), I’d be willing to come help you get a group started.

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Comments

2 Responses to “A New Year’s Revolution!”

  1. Jonas Lundström on December 30th, 2007 8:08 am

    I have some questions about the usual ec-interpretation of Matthew 25. I think it is more in line with the context of Matthew to interpret “the little brothers of Jesus” as Jesus disciples/the ones sent out, and not every “needy” person around (the common understanding). The concept of “small-ness” and those called “brothers” of Jesus is always otherwise in Matthew used about Jesus disciples/apostles. And actually, I think this is a more radical interpretation. God´s people, when it is normal, is faced with poverty, hunger, nakedness and imprisonment. It is not enough for us to stay safe and rich and “help the poor”, keeping our lives at a safe distant. WE need to become the poor ones…

  2. Jason Barr on December 31st, 2007 1:28 pm

    January 1 is also the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus, which commemorates his circumcision and naming on the 8th day after his birth. The name Yeshua, literally “YHWH saves”, invokes the memory of Joshua and the future hope of God taking the whole world as his promised land for the people of his kingdom - the kingdom of the crucified Messiah.

    I’ve had a bit of an incident involving my laptop and a glass of water and will be online only sporadically at best for the next week or two until I get it back from the fix-it man. Just wanted to let you know so you don’t think I’ve dropped off the face of the earth.

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