VISION: SEEING WHAT GOD SEES
I saw the flag flying half-mast over the town hall as I made my way to the corner emporium in Yorketown. “It’s for Charlie,” said the woman at the checkout counter, “He died yesterday.”
I’d seen Charlie driving around town in an old Falcon that someone had loaned him with a driving permit from the local policeman which restricted him to the streets of the town. I didn’t know his surname and I wasn’t sure anybody else did either, he was just always “Charlie”. He’d turn up just before close of sale on Saturday morning and was permitted to take the left overs of the pastries and bread from the bakery, veg from the greengrocer and a few sausages from the butcher. Nobody could ever remember him holding down a job or hearing anything of his family but, then again, we could never remember him getting
into any trouble either. But he was one of us. And the flag at half-mast was testimony to that. In death, it flew to honour the life of the president of the footy club or the poorest pensioner. Everybody belonged, and everybody mattered.
In many ways, it is God’s vision of the world he is seeking to redeem. The formation of a new community of faith, where everyone belongs, whether rich or poor, celebrity or recluse, where all are valued because all belong, where all are welcome, and where all can serve. Jesus used the word ecclesia (Matthew 16:18) to describe this vision of God’s people; in English it is translated church. In the ancient Greek world, ecclesia was akin to the notion of a tribal village where everyone belonged to one family or another, but all families were part of the one tribe. The prince of the village ruled, and the people freely served him and lived under the peace he maintained. Sounds like a great place to live. It also gives us a glimpse of the ultimate city of God which we will enter when we pass through the gateway of death (Revelation 21:1-4).
From Frank Eames