The early church was birthed into creating a new culture. After following Jesus for three years, this community was given the gift to create a movement that would create a culture that mirrored the example lived and taught by Jesus. The earliest name given to these followers was a profound name, “People of the Way.” It was later shortened to “The Way.” The Way gives the sense that it is fluid rather than static, that it is like a path to trod, rather than a wall to build, it is an invitation to follow rather than a law that constricts.
Showing ‘the way’ was the goal of the earliest leaders of the church. They had experienced a profound cultural shift and way of being in the world that led them to dare the persecution and rejection of others, in order to practice a way of grace. This way was marked by forgiveness; welcome to the stranger, downcast, the rejected; caring for the whole person so no one had need; and learning to be channels of love revealed through Jesus our Christ.
As this movement built momentum, the religious community tried to thwart it but, instead, it only increased in impact. It was a movement based on a community doing life together, authentically. They weren’t perfect, but they learned to see deeper. They found out that the designations (rich/poor, male/female, Jew/Non-Jew, slave/free, etc.) of their time diminished the truth in the worthiness of each one. And people flocked to them because it was a coming home feeling.
This year, the pastoral team hopes to help remind us of what it means to be the people of The Way. Through a deep search of the New Testament letters and the teachings of Jesus, revealed in the Gospels, we hope to invite you to ponder our cultural normatives and perhaps adapt our lives so we might reflect a community living ‘The Way’ together.