Last week, during the forum with the pastoral candidate (me), someone asked “What is your vision for Imani?” Well, this little treatise is my attempt at answering this question. Yet, I choose to answer a variation of this question: What is my vision of Imani?
As is usually the case, the answer I have for this question came to me through several conversations we’ve had in our Wednesday evening Bible study. I must admit I have to thank our good sister Toka for a moment of inspiration that I will always remember and cherish. With this said, here’s what I consider to be my vision of Imani MCC.
In Luke 8:40-48 we are given an amazing healing story in the life of Jesus, it’s the story we’ve come to know as “The Woman with the Issue of Blood.” It wasn’t until the past month or so, during our Bible study, that I came to see some things about this story that I’d never seen before. Here are some of those epiphanies:
- Because of their faith (in what they saw in Jesus) all kinds of people came to Jesus for healing (restoration of right/true relationship with God, themselves, others, and life as a whole). In this story we find a man with a name, and a position in the community of faith, Jairus. We also find a woman who has no name, and the story tells us at this point in her life she has no financial means because she has spent them all in her search for healing. (Anybody, ANYBODY, could/can come to Jesus.)
- We find that, as was the case throughout Jesus’ life and ministry, these two weren’t the only ones coming to him for healing. We’re told that as he made his way to meet the need of one person who made a request of him the crowds pressed in to try and reach him, and I’m sure some were there for the “right” reasons and others with questionable motives. Such is life. (There are all kinds of obstacles that could/would keep us from experiencing God’s ever present Grace, if we let them. And at times we all let them.)
- In one instance, the person with “authority” comes to Jesus boldly and makes a request of him, in the other case (the woman) comes anonymously (secretly if you will) to receive what she needs from the Master. (It doesn’t matter how we get “back home” [To God, the “room we rest in”] what matters is that we get there, that we be there.)
- Ultimately, they both receive from Jesus what it is they are looking for, and in two most unlikely ways. The woman with the “blood disease” experiences her healing by simply (How many of you get that it wasn’t so “simple” for her?) reaching out and touching the hem of Jesus’ clothing. This is the part of the story that I really “GOT” when we talked about it in Bible study. After spending all she had on doctors and their methods, somehow this woman saw something in Jesus that told her that all she had to do was reach out and touch what was probably the most unclean part of his clothing to receive what she desired with all her heart! What an imagination! What faith! (God uses whatever to make God’s presence and love available to us. We must be open to seeing God’s love in places where we least expect to do so.)
- In the other case, Jairus’ need of healing for his daughter, we find the story taking another twist (Life does that you know) when someone comes to tell Jesus the girl has died. That doesn’t stop Jesus or Jairus. The story ends (or continues) with the girl being restored (healed) to wholeness, to life. (There’s no limit to God’s/our ability to realize good.)
This is one vision I hold of Imani MCC in the days ahead: a group of people who not only recite “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen,” but actually live these words from Hebrews 11:1. Here is how I see it at this moment:
- We all come to this place, both named and nameless, because we’ve been called here in/by/through faith in God’s love for us all.
- We have to press through crowds (our own erroneous thoughts and beliefs … getting some things “right” and being totally “off” in some ways) both internal and external people and factors that would make us doubt what we already know to be true … that God loves us without conditions.
- No matter where we come from, or our status in life, we are all welcome at this “faith table” … a table that faith built, and table that is filled with the things that will feed our faith in God’s irresistible, undeniable love.
- We find just what we need/desire at this table because of God’s inexhaustible supply, and sometimes we find it in the most unlikely places, through the most unlikely things, at the most unlikely times! We just keep on trusting/believing that what we need is always right here when we need it.
- And we share our faith (however it shows up) with one another and the world.
- We live together with the intention of seeing just what our faith can/will do for us and all of God’s children.