Holding On to Common Purpose
In recent weeks, we’ve been hearing a lot of very angry voices. The frustration of disrupted lives and livelihoods is real. The yearning for something that resembles normal is palpable. The fears around an uncertain near-term future has moved people’s anxiety to a full boil. Unfortunately, these very real feelings are being exploited by some in our world who wish only to maximize power, profit and disruption. The consequence is a fraying of our community, a disruption of the relationships that would make for strong community support for dealing with a deadly pandemic. This is the time to let go of the tribal conflicts that have defined our discourse in recent years. We are all part of a community that has a common purpose…the welfare of all creation. This is the commonwealth, the beloved community. The willingness to make sacrifices for someone else, even those who have been ‘othered’ by our tribalism is the very heart of the Gospel call. Living out this vision, as people of faith is our highest responsibility.
Building a Place for All
It takes all of us to build a place where all belong. It begins with a commitment that our fellow humans are all made in the image of God and equally recipients of God’s grace. To proceed from the standpoint that all are equal, but that some are ‘more equal than others’ isn’t going to cut it. Equality, with no caveats and no cutouts is our only option. From a faith standpoint we build a place where all can know the incredible grace and love that God has for them. This isn’t the work of building a cathedral. It isn’t about creating a gateway where there is some sort of orthodoxy litmus test that gives us an excuse to exclude. It is more like the building of a hostel. We are building a place where travelers can find rest and renewal. It is a place where hospitality rules the day. As hosts, we make room in our hearts and hearth for all those who find their way to our door.
Our Life As a Building Block
The Epistle of Peter, written at a time when being a disciple of Jesus was becoming increasingly difficult, paints a picture for the early church that is an important reminder for today. Rather than encourage the nascent community to hide in the face of persecution he encourages them to step forward. With the life, death and resurrection of Jesus as the guide for us, we each add our life to build something of great consequence. As we live out the teaching that whenever we offer care and mercy to all members of the human community, we do it for Jesus, we reflect his life. Peter’s language rings with echoes of the Temple. I don’t hear this as some throw back to a time of security. Truthfully, Israel knew very few times of legitimate security. Rather, if we think about the point of the Temple, a place to encounter God’s presence, a place where our relationship with God can be renewed, what Peter is calling us to become is a place where all who come to us can experience that gift. Using Jesus’ life as a blueprint, we accomplish this through our practice of self-giving love. When we make space for others to experience this grace we are living out our calling.