Saturday, February 1, 2020
love or perish
We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
“They want us to be afraid.
They want us to be afraid of leaving our homes.
They want us to barricade our doors and hide our children.
Their aim is to make us fear life itself!
They want us to hate.
They want us to hate 'the other'.
They want us to practice aggression and perfect antagonism.
Their aim is to divide us all!
They want us to be inhuman.
They want us to throw out our kindness.
They want us to bury our love and burn our hope.
Their aim is to take all our light!
They think their bricked walls will separate us.
They think their damned bombs will defeat us.
They are so ignorant they don’t understand that my soul and your soul are old friends.
They are so ignorant they don’t understand that when they cut you I bleed.
They are so ignorant they don’t understand that we will never be afraid,
we will never hate and we will never be silent
for life is ours!”
― Kamand Kojouri
Is anyone tired of all the hate?
The name calling?
The fear mongering?
Is anyone tired of all the division?
It seems patently true that there are those who seek to divide us
It seems as if those souls are everywhere, everywhere
With their memes, and articles, comments
Most of us
Walk around with emotional shell shock
And either silent and cautious
Or outspoken and aggressive
And it is taking its toll
On our nation
On our communities
On our churches
It has made it hard to sit down together and worship, together
it has made it difficult to sing praise, together
It has strained the bonds of affection
I cannot help but remember the words of President Lincoln
Who, in his first inaugural address
As the dark cloud of the civil war loomed on the horizon
(it would begin one month later)
Uttered these words
“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”
I cannot share, adequately
The depth of pain I feel when the bonds of affection are broken
By political passion
By hatred, planted, watered, and nurtured
By those who would use it for their own purposes
My heart is torn as I see the faces of people I care about
People whom I have visited as a pastor
People whom I have prayed with
People whose loved one’s I have buried (and perhaps married)
When they see other people whom I have visit, with whom I have prayer
Others who have lost someone dear, or whose family has been stricken by illness
Harden because instead of community, there is division
This is a difficult time
People with strongly held beliefs think a person is the savior of our nation
People with strongly held beliefs think that same person is its greatest threat
There are many points of division
But the point is these are all people who are trying to do the best they can
And the reasons for the differences are complex
They have to do with family and local culture, with whom a person chooses to trust, with sources of information, with what is being taught in a person’s church…
And we can judgmentally say (to ourselves)
They should be able to see the lies, see the damage see, the evil
(as we perceive it)
But those who believe differently from us are saying exactly the same thing in their head and hearts.
And everyone (OK, many) are totally sincere
Richard Rohr, in this blog (1/20/20) made this observation, when talking about the desert fathers and mothers, who were clearly people of faith and passion, but sometimes wrote things that make us cringe.
“Contemporary philosopher Ken Wilber offers a helpful distinction between stages and states. Your stage is your outer awareness. Your state is your inner aliveness. The goal is to be both holy and whole, saintly and wise. But your state and stage don’t always coincide; many of us are stronger in one area than another.
You can be a high-level thinker and be quite astute about psychology, theology, history, or philosophy (a high stage), but do it all from a perspective of individualism and arrogance about that very information (a low state)—because it is still all about “you.” Conversely, you could be quite unified within and with others, in a high state of loving consciousness, but be poorly informed, lacking in exposure and education to helpful and informative knowledge.”
In short this mixture of stage and state make us inconsistent
And sometimes inexplicable
In terms of what we think and believe, and
In terms of who and what we support
And so, I have decided, that even though I have my passions
And even though my great passion is Jesus, and his way of
Generosity and servanthood
I must find a way to be in the same town
The same pew
The same space
As those who do not agree with me
My job, if I am really going to take Jesus seriously
Is just that
To be in the same space
And to talk with those people, kindly
And listen to those people, openly
And hold the tension that arises
Hold it carefully, so that the bonds are not broken
So that we can continue to be
And in communion
Gathered around the same table
And drinking from the common cup
Of Sacred Love
This is not easy
It may not always work
The bonds may sometimes snap
But this pain, the pain that comes when I see
Tight angry faces
Read hateful words
See empty places in the pews
And at the table of the Lord
I will not be silent
But I will not hate
And I will not exclude
And I will not avoid
And I will not hold back from doing good,
Even for those with whom I do not agree
I will pour as much of my time and ministry
As much of my love into those with whom I disagree
As into those with whom I agree
(to the best of my ability – come Holy Spirit, I need a lot of help)
For we must learn to live together as brothers and sisters,
or perish together as fools.