Work of Unification
1/6/2021 Dear Church,
Many of us find ourselves glued to screens witnessing violent demonstrations protesting The Electoral College Certification Process at the United States Capitol Building today. The images are frightening and disturbing. We know, sadly, that we are a nation divided. I am distressed by the division, and my sincere hope is that the work we do at St. John’s with one another on behalf of our brothers and sisters in need, driven by the loving example of Jesus is an antidote to anger, hatred and violence that has become commonplace in social-political circles in our great nation.
I am writing to you this afternoon in hopes that we as a church, as a people called out, can recommit to the work of unification. No doubt the work is hard and the road forward is long, steep and winding with no promise that we reach our hoped-for destination. We, who have the pleasure and privilege of living here in the Tetons, are used to long, steep and winding. Most certainly, some of you are wondering how we might begin to engage the work of reconciliation and unification. Here are a few thoughts:
- Begin with an understanding that each is beloved of God, no matter ideological affiliation. We remember Paul’s teaching that “no one can separate us from the love of God.”
- Work hard to deescalate social-political conflict at home, in the office, and beyond in our own social circles and social media networks. We’re going to have to act, rather than just observe or opt out.
- Listen. Have you found yourself tuning out, maybe even crossing your arms? Seeking understanding of others is right in line with Jesus’ instruction to “love our neighbors.”
- Give care to those who are anxious, afraid, and distressed. We are so close to emerging from the most anxious time of our lives, as we sought to keep our family and loved ones safe from this virus while also struggling to retain our own livelihoods. So many need an extra measure of nurture and care, and we are just the people to provide it.
In our recent history, our parish unified this community under the banner of “civility, compassion, and love.” Those were Mary’s words you rallied around. It feels like it’s time to double down on those important values. Mary and so many of you walked that loving road a few years ago, and we have the opportunity to do it, again. Those of you who have so generously listened to me over the course of the last four and a half years know that the portion of scripture that most animates my own faith comes from 1st John 4:7-8. John exhorts, “Beloved, let us love one another because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love, does not know God, for God is love.”
Let me be clear. We will not be defined by the destruction and disappointment of today, but, rather, by the love we show for one another—those with whom we agree and those with whom we disagree.
Beloved, let us love one another because love is from God.