Your Following

“To follow Jesus means to follow Jesus into a society where justice rules, where love shapes everything. To follow Jesus means to take up his dream and work for it.”

— Scot McKnight

Dear Friends:

Where are you being called to follow?

The concept of “following” holds unique meaning in this era of social media. When you “follow” someone, it means you sign up to receive notifications or you at least agree to “see” when they post something on Facebook, Twitter, etc. And, as you probably know, who you follow and the content they post matter. Soon enough, you start to scroll. And you see different content–such content that is curated for you based on who you follow.

Illustration of social media terms

Following, before the internet and social media, was looked at quite differently. If you followed someone, it was because you would otherwise get lost and needed directions to your destination. So you walked behind or beside them, or followed them in your car or bike. You followed them to arrive safely and well.
Also, people followed teachers and spiritual leaders. They chose to follow them because they felt that what they said and taught resonated or helped them in some way, or inspired them. Thus, people might say: “I follow the teachings of…”

So when you think about Jesus of Nazareth and following, consider that for those Jesus encountered, they were invited to both follow physically and spiritually. They would actually walk with Jesus, travel with him, eat with him, live with him. They would follow by tangibly caring for the marginalized. They followed by healing. Likewise, they followed Jesus’ teachings and his call to justice and love work that began in the mind and heart and was lived out in actions.

So friends, at this moment, how are you being called to follow this love and justice? How are you following physically with your hands and feet, skills, and gifts? How are you following spiritually, with your mind, spirit, and attention?

By the way, Ramadan Mubarak to all my Muslim friends and colleagues! Here are some pictures from the Ramadan Breaking of the Fast with our dear friends at the Islamic Cultural Society of the Delaware Valley.

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Josh grew up in Indiana and Iowa before completing a Masters of Divinity [M.Div.] at Princeton Theological Seminary [NJ]. He has worked in a variety of settings, including the Presbyterian Church (USA) and United Church of Christ (UCC) in Philadelphia, Hawai’i, Mexico, and Michigan. Currently, he serves as pastor of Love in Action United Church of Christ, a progressive, Christian, LGBTQIA+ affirming and interfaith community in Hatboro, a suburb of Philadelphia. He also holds a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre/Speech from Northwestern College (IA). Josh has worked with youth and young adult programs for 25 years regionally, nationally, and in Latin America. He is also a trained actor and performs regularly with the dinner theatre company, Without a Cue Productions, LLC. He has developed theatre arts curriculum for use in worship, youth groups, education, and group-building. Josh is also committed to promoting religious pluralism and partnering with people of all faiths and those who identify as atheist or agnostic to build bridges of shared values and cooperation. He is honored to work with the Interfaith Center of Greater Philadelphia as a Fellow and a Consultant. Focus areas include: University alternative spring break and summer programs that incorporate faith encounters and service-learning for students; workplace diversity programs that promote understanding in organizations, corporations, schools, and hospital settings. Josh also enjoys playing basketball, strumming on the guitar, traveling, learning language, or making strange and funny faces. He lives in Center City Philadelphia and thinks vegan cheesesteaks are amazingly good.

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