As I said in last Sunday’s sermon regarding the Pope’s visit to America, “We like this Pope.” He seems to embody Jesus’ call to service and to leading by being least and last. His gesture to eat lunch with the poor and homeless in Washington, D.C. was a powerful witness. In an age where most of what we read about Christianity is about Christians being mean and judgmental, it’s refreshing to see this side of the Pope getting air time.
Maybe we like him so much because here is a person who has reached the pinnacle of his profession and instead of grabbing for all the privileges offered to him, the Pope is offering himself for others. And frankly, that resonates with us because it is something we do well here at First Congregational. Much of our work as a congregation is focused on giving ourselves for others. We’ve had 200 people show up the last two months for the mobile food pantry that we host and staff along with Eastern students. Our shops are providing clothing for children and adults at minimal cost. We host the Interfaith Sewing Group and several of our members work with them providing school bags and kits for Church World Service, baptismal gowns for Haiti and a host of other projects. We are heavily involved with the work of Windham Area Interfaith Ministries (WAIM) and support the No Freeze Shelter and the Covenant Soup Kitchen. Our ministry parallels much of the Pope’s witness and we respond positively.
But we also have a witness that is beyond the Pope and the Roman Catholic tradition. We recognize the full value and capability of women and take the ordination of women as natural and positive. We go beyond an absence of condemnation to give open welcome to LGBTQ individuals and support and offer marriage celebrations for them. So we celebrate the servant witness of Pope Francis while also having our own distinct and valuable witness for Christ in the world. Let us continue to work with all people of faith, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, etc… to transform the world for God’s love, grace and justice.