I am grateful to be Facebook friends with Howard Helvey, a renowned church musician who lives here in Cincinnati. He often posts photos from his walks around the city. This week, he posted a photo that is beautiful, poignant, and not a little provocative.
The photo was taken at the site where Calvary United Methodist Church is being demolished. Someone has written graffiti on the wall of the nave, partly still standing in defiant glory and partly razed into rubble. “Who’s gonna save us now?”
I have no idea what was in the mind of the person who painted this cry. Was it intended sympathetically, in sorrow over a church that will no longer stand? Was it hostile, mocking faith in Jesus? Was the writer channeling a couple of recent popular songs that include this phrase or ones close to it in their lyrics? Was the message a cry of anguish over the church and perhaps the state of our world?
When I initially saw the writing, my first thought was to recall the cries of Palm Sunday. Hosanna! Save us! The desperation of people groaning under the yoke of imperial oppression is palpable in the anguished shouts of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. The miseries that bind us now are different, but they are no less real—pandemic, economic disparity, systemic racism, rampant violence—and it is absolutely righteous to shout out, “Who will save us?”
Salvation is a word that I wish we spent more time with in the Episcopal Church. Thinking of salvation as “getting into heaven” is only a tiny slice of what the word means, and even that is a bit of a distorted view. The scriptures use salvation to mean deliverance, health, wholeness, and redemption. Salvation is something that most certainly begins in this life and continues into the life to come.
Who’s gonna save us now? God’s salvation is surely front and center. We yearn to be transformed by the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ. And salvation might involve each one of us as we choose to be means of health, wholeness, deliverance, and redemption for others. Wearing a mask, offering a word of hope, showing mercy, striving for justice, praying without ceasing, proclaiming Good News—these are all ways we share the saving love of Jesus Christ with a world in need.
Who’s gonna save us now? Jesus, without a doubt. And that’s why our work as disciples and evangelists matters now and always.
Who’s gonna save us now? Jesus, without a doubt. Thanks be to God.
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By Kate Gillooly
Jesus didn’t just call 12—he called us all.
And he called us to discern and unleash our gifts, playing our part in bringing God’s kingdom to earth. Congregational development expert Kate Gillooly unpacks this in four video presentations, titled:
- We Are All Called to Mission
- The Work of Discernment
- Spiritual Gifts for Mission
- When It Works
This course is ideal for anyone looking to explore mission, especially as it relates to congregational development.
Listen to today’s Forward Day by Day reflection on the Forward Day by Day podcast. Find morning prayer on the Morning at the Office podcast and end your day with the Evening at Prayer podcast. Available anywhere you listen!
In case you missed it…