Emmitsburg Council of Churches


I Have a Vision . . .

A Meditation of Hope from Pastor Jon

Many years ago I used to listen to a very charismatic radio preacher who, whenever he was beginning his message on the air, used to say, "I-I-I-I-I Have a Vision!" This preacher really knew how to grab the attention of his listeners! I think he must have known some basic human psychology too, because when someone says, "I-I-I-I-I Have a Vision," the phrase automatically triggers our minds to react: "Hey, this guy says he's got a vision, so I'd better listen up and try to hear what it is. I may even find that I have an interest (or stake) in this vision." My radio preacher captivated me and the rest of his audience by inviting us to listen attentively to what he had to say and by listening attentively we would, by default, enter into the "revelation" that was unfolding through his ministry. Jesus, the motivator of the radio preacher, also has a way of attracting people to his message and causes us to get involved with the unfolding revelation of his Vision . . ., a little something he calls the Kingdom of God.

I think most of us admire people who have a vision. Not because they are more brilliant or cleverer than we are, but because to have a vision means that one must have either spent considerable time and effort developing the vision or one must be somehow "inspired" -- possibly supernaturally or at least spiritually. Having the sense that a vision has been revealed to you, either because of your own thoughtfulness or as a result of receiving a message of inspiration, e.g., "from above," or as a result of reading the Bible or meeting with someone who has enlightened you -- can place you in a position of personal empowerment. You now have something to give and share with others: Vision. Throughout the centuries various visions and visionaries have come and gone. Some have made the world a better place than it was before and others have created some of humanity's greatest horrors. So we have to be careful about choosing who or what originates our vision.

As a minister of the Gospel (the Good News) I take Jesus Christ as my source of origin for a vision for a better world, peace, and a thriving humanity and creation. Jesus' teachings and actions during his earthly ministry all demonstrated the essence of his Vision. As when he spoke about loving one's neighbors ("even your enemies . . ." (Matt. 5:44)), sharing with others (we all have some gift to give (Matt. 5:42)) and healing those who are sick -- whether from a malady like cancer or a social condition, as when someone is isolated or demeaned because of their appearance, age, state of mind, or skin color (see: Mark 5:1-20). All that Jesus said and did has demonstrated the essence of his Vision and when the Vision is shared, it causes us to want to get involved. Sometimes the Gospel that we preach is boiled down to salvation of the soul. This is indeed a part of the Good News, but is not a holistic view of Jesus' Vision. Jesus sought to save the whole person, not just their soul. Even more than that, Jesus' life, teachings, suffering, death and resurrection covered more than just making us a way to get to heaven. It's not even exclusively about me or you as individuals, but the Vision of Jesus encompasses the entirety of creation. Walking in the ways of justice, peace, healing and restoration of life are emphasized from its beginnings all the way to eternity! This means that life in the-here-and-now as well as into eternity are all part of the "Vision Statement." There is not any room for separation between the two realities. This is one of the secrets of Christian joy, we don't just live life waiting for eternity to begin (as in, "thank God it's Friday") as though heaven was the sole fulfillment of the Vision, but instead, Christians get "caught up" in Jesus' Vision right here and now.

It happens when a new-born baby is baptized; it happens when a young person develops their own sense of consciousness and takes action in caring for others, and it continues as we hear Jesus' Vision statement time and again and make subtle changes in our own lives. Responding to Jesus' Vision is a life-long process of thoughtfully re-examining our value systems and practicing the same kind of gentle yet vital living that Jesus exemplified. You can be reminded of the Vision of Jesus at any time in your life, but don't wait until the end!

Get involved with the Vision now!

Perhaps two simple words spoken by the resurrected Christ to Peter at the end of John's Gospel sum up the appropriate call for us to enter into the Vision: "Follow Me!" (John 21:19b).

May the peace of Christ dwell richly in your heart and with your family in all ways.

Read more writings of Pastor Jon