Havering on the Way_3
The Ecclesia as koinonia Christou and koinonia pneumatos, as the Body of Christ, is a pure communion of persons entirely without institutional character. ~ Emil Brunner, The Misunderstanding of Church, 1951
Tom: This is what you call an intimate gathering?
Ishmael: By gitano standards. A gyspy wedding will sometimes have 2,000 guests.
Tom: All close, personal friends?
Ishamel: Actually, yes. (pauses) I suppose you are taking your son’s remains to Muxia.
Tom: No, we go to the Santiago de Compostela.
Ishmael: You go to the cathedral in Santiago for the pilgrim’s mass and the blessing. You must continue across Galicia to the sea. There is a shrine in Muxia: La Virgen de la Barca. Go there. Place the remains of your son in the water. It is for him and for you.
Tom: Ishmael, I’m not a very religious man.
Ishmael: Religion has nothing to do with this. Nothing it all. ~ The Way, Chapter 12
Watching those four pilgrims, those peregrinos, as they journeyed, as they awkwardly formed relationships with each other, seeing the worst and the best in each other as they walked together day after day, week after week, 24/7, I suddenly realized that this was the church Jesus experienced. I sould see him first with the two – Andrew and that “other disciple” or soon to be disciple, who followed him after hearing John the Baptist rave about this passing rabbi. “What are you seeking?” Jesus asked as he turned and confronted them. “Rabbi, we want to see where you are staying,” they responded. “Come and see.” It was a request and an invitation to relationship at the start of a journey.
What was Jesus “ministry” but one prolonged pilgrimage? What was it but one very long walk with twelve guys and assorted others who tagged along, including a sizeable entourage of women of means who helped pay the way as they walked the Way with Jesus?
“Jesus of Nazareth, anointed with the Holy Spirit and power, went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil.” That was Peter’s summary of Jesus’ ministry.
No box, no staff, no advertised events. Just Jesus and his friends journeying together and experiencing many seemingly random encounters with people in need as they did so. Reading the three Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) you get the impression that it was a journey that took place in a little under a year. John’s Gospel telling is the one from which we infer it was a journey that took three years – and honestly, as non-linear as John is in his writing, whether in the Gospel or in his letters and Revelation, I wonder if he isn’t relating stories from the one year the Synoptics seem to relate, spiraling into it and with each circle, each pass, he simply relates different scenes, different encounters.
Regardless, the point is that the invitation of Jesus for these first disciples was for them to take one very long walk with him, during which they would get to know him and through him the Father who sent him. Not to mention each other.
When you walk with twelve guys day after day, week after week, month after month, you don’t need to plan intimacy exercises. The entire journey is the intimacy exercise. I’ve always loved the illustration of Jesus sitting very Jesus-like with the twelve and telling Peter to pass out the discussion guide notes.
Don’t think that happened.