We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors,
as though God were making his appeal through us.
2 Corinthians 5:20
To the People of God in the Southeastern Minnesota Synod,
I had a colleague whose mother told him every time he left the house as a child, “Remember, you’re a Josephson.” She was, on his way out the door, reminding him of who he was and the reality that he represented more than just himself. He was a Josephson, and that meant something.1
I have long understood that one of my primary roles as a pastor is to remind people of who they are on a regular basis. It is why I address my letters To the People of God. It is who you are, and how we understand who we are shapes how we live.
Martin Luther is commonly believed to have said, “When you wash your face, remember your baptism.”2 For me, remembering my baptism is remembering my identity. I’m a child of God. That is who I am.
The apostle Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians that, as God’s people, we are “ambassadors of Christ.” As the People of God, we are beloved children of God, and we also, like my colleague Pastor Josephson, represent more than just ourselves. Indeed, we represent what it means to be a child of God. We are, as Paul teaches us elsewhere, the body of Christ in the world today.
Dear church, this pandemic has lasted (and seemingly will continue to) longer than any of us would desire. I think it is fair at this point to say we are all plumb worn out. We are tired, and we are weary, and I think some of us might even be wondering how much longer we need to continue thinking so much about the health and welfare of others.
To this, I offer a pastoral word: remember who you are. You are the People of God. You are followers of the way and life of Jesus. You are ambassadors of Christ.
The sheer amount of decision making this pandemic requires is exhausting. The exhaustion and weariness are wearing on us, and it is showing up all over the place: in conversations about masks and vaccines and personal freedoms. And in areas that seem completely disconnected from the pandemic but are overflows of our weariness nonetheless.
Dear church, even in your profound exhaustion, remember who you are and live and act from that place. First, stop and remember who you are. Meditate on it. Remember your baptism: the promises you received and the promises made. Remember what it means to be a follower of Jesus: someone who loves God and loves neighbor. Everything in our Christian life hangs on these two teachings. Our identity comes not from the animosity and anxiety that so freely swirl around us but from Jesus Christ.
So, having been re-rooted in your true identity, allow it to shape the way you live. Remember, you are ambassadors of Christ. Allow that understanding to inform how you interact and dialogue with others, how you receive decisions made by leaders, how you continue to live in community.
It has been a long pandemic road; the stress and anxiety around us only seem to increase. But those outside forces are not what shape how we live because they do not change who we are.
You are the People of God, followers of Jesus, ambassadors of Christ. To borrow the wisdom of Mrs. Josephson and Martin Luther: remember who you are, every chance you get.