Following Jesus

9 minutes and 29 seconds
September 19, 2022
Companions and Community
October 14, 2022

By Sister Sharon Havelak, OSF


dove featherIt was a single, simple sentence – but it stopped me cold.

I had been sorting papers. I gave a quick glance at the last paragraph of an article I found. The paragraph highlighted a book by Verna Dozier, an African American Episcopal theologian, the Dream of God. She defines God’s dream as “a good creation of a friendly world of friendly folk beneath a friendly sky.” She proposes that today’s Church has missed its calling: “Jesus asked us to follow him but we decided to worship him instead.”

The statement has haunted me ever since.

It also has made me grateful for all those who, in great and small ways, are trying to follow Jesus.

September has been a busy month for followers. September 1 (Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation) – October 4 (Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, patron of ecology) is set as the Season of Creation. Concurrently, September 21 (UN International Day of Peace) – October 2 (UN International Day of Nonviolence) mark the Campaign Nonviolence Days of Action.

Here in Toledo, a small group of activists gathered on September 21 for a press conference highlighting a billboard calling for the US to support a treaty banning all nuclear weapons. Later that day, over 70 people gathered at the Lucas County Courthouse for a Peace March, highlighting local needs and efforts to address them. It was a diverse group – civic and secular leaders, politicians and pastors, activists and representatives of community organizations – all expressing their solidarity. And we even made it to the end of the event before the heavens opened up and “blessed” us! Recently, Sylvania Franciscans, co-workers, students, and friends met for our 10th annual Zero-Waste luncheon, to address how we might consider the plight our Sister Mother Earth and our response to her healing. All profound experiences of making the dream of God a reality.

And, still haunted, I continue to ask myself: am I simply a worshipper of Jesus? Or does my prayer lead me to follow him? Would there be enough evidence, as the old 70’s slogan begs, to convict me, if accused, of being a Christian?

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Sister Irie
1 month ago

Sister Sharon,
Thank your for your very significant and timely reflection on who we are: just one who prays or one who through our prayers is a follower of Jesus. Blessings!

Sister Mary Thill
1 month ago

You sure hit the nail on the head…it’s easier to worship than to actually follow/imitate someone.
Jesus told his disciples to “follow me” not put him in a box and worship him in comfortable places.
Thanks for the reminder and inspiration. Thanks for all the reminders where we can actually
participate in “real time” local opportunities in following our Jesus today.
Bless you for all you do and are as a Follower of Jesus in the tradition of St. Francis.

Shannon Schrein
1 month ago

What an excellent reflection, Sharon! the notion of being a disciple–a follower is essential to the Gospel message. Thanks for the reminder.

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