6-22-16 - I Will Follow

Whether it is the Shirelles (or in this video, Little Peggy March) singing “I Will Follow Him,” or Bono and U2 (appallingly young here) doing “I Will Follow," we have a rich soundtrack for our gospel story. When our hearts are full of love for someone, it is natural to proclaim our everlasting allegiance and intention to be with them wherever they go. Ask Dead Heads, ParrotHeads, and other fanatical band-fans.

So it was one day as Jesus walked with his followers toward Jerusalem, even strangers got caught up in it:
As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”

Jesus was saying, “You want to follow me, it comes at a cost. Things won’t be comfortable or predictable or stable. Wild creatures will have more security than you will.” We see in the gospels Jesus living a very peripatetic life, always on the move. We hear about his being “at home in Capernaum,” but he doesn’t seem to have spent much time there.

American Christianity has not followed this “I will follow you wherever” pattern. Other than traveling evangelists (often suspect characters in books and movies...), we prefer to do our following inwardly, quietly, spiritually, staying rooted to place and community. I am a staying put type myself, and even when I move I seek security and stability. Does this compromise me as a disciple? Is it, “I will follow, as long as I know where I’m going to sleep?” Or is there a legitimate place for being rooted in community, in our neighborhoods?

Both/And, of course… God blesses us with homes and families and communities and work and all the richness of a web of relationships. And God invites us to hold these blessings lightly, to keep our focus more on the Giver than on the gifts – and to be prepared to let them go, trade them in, keep our hands open to new blessings. It can be a difficult balancing act, but it keeps us better connected to God, nimble and ready to pivot when the Spirit calls us to bring our gifts to some new thing God is doing. And God is always doing a new thing.

The lyrics to U2’s I Will Follow are in part about Bono’s loss of his mother at a young age, but there is also unmistakably religious language – “I was blind, I could not see…” “I was lost, I am found,” that suggests the band – deeply enmeshed in Christian life at the time – had broader themes in mind. Jesus invites us away from our sorrows and stucknesses, away from our self-saving strategies and sources of security to walk with him through this world, seeing it through his eyes. Sometimes that’s on the move, sometimes it’s still. Always it is being open to grace.

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