The United Reformed Church’s General Assembly which I attended in Southport from 8th -11th July had as its theme “People of the Way.” The earliest Christian church members were known by this description. In the ninth chapter of the book of the Acts of the Apostles, Saul of Tarsus (later better known as Paul) seeks letters from the authorities in Jerusalem to go to Damascus to arrest and persecute men and women, “who belonged to the Way.” (Acts 9:2) Before long Saul (aka Paul) was following the Way himself.
Who then are the People of the Way? What is the Way? At the last supper on the night Jesus was betrayed as John’s Gospel records, Thomas asks Jesus, “How can we know the way?” (John 14:4).
Jesus answers Thomas, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” (John 14:6). Jesus is the way and the People of the Way are the followers of Jesus.
As People of the Way we are called to do things the right and proper way – we are called to work and pray for justice and peace in society and in the world. To set our communities an example of living in harmony.
As People of the Way we are called sometimes to do things and think things a different way – to challenge and review long held and deeply entrenched ideals and to respect people whose views may be different to our own. For example, at General Assembly it was recognised that the URC as a denomination could not speak with a single voice on the issue of same sex marriage but that each church meeting under the guidance of the Holy Spirit be allowed to come to their own decision on whether they wished to register their building for the conduct of marriages between people of the same sex.
As People of the Way we are called in all circumstances to do things the loving way – Jesus told his first disciples that they would be recognised as his followers by their love. (John13:35) The same holds true for us – his disciples today. Shalom,
PS: To all members and friends going off on holiday during the month of August, Marion and I wish you a happy, peaceful and refreshing time.