I wrote these words before I learned of the mass shootings that occurred over this weekend. My first inclination was to scrap them but then I read them again and they remain true to me…
Pardon me if they seem a bit preachy but here goes…
At our very best the Church has the capacity to offer an alternative to the prevailing worldviews, political ideologies, and social constructs that are at the root of the polarization that marks our current context. When we embrace the Gospel as a declaration of God’s love for all humanity, and accept the grand narrative of scripture as a story that reveals God’s justice, and compassion and a peoples wrestling with what this means as we relate to one another, the Church can be a place of healing.
This possibility for healing and repair, however, can only occur when we assume a posture of humility and surrender our cravings for certainty, easy answers, and neatly packaged doctrines that actually undermine our creativity and imagination – the faith and the compassion that can energize us toward some hope and future where peace can be a reality.
We are fractured and scattered because we lack humility and creativity that dare to imagine how we might learn to be together in authentic and meaningful ways. We are fractured and scattered because we have abandoned the curiosity that grapples with hard questions, that interrogates ideologies, that scrutinizes every system and then filters every experience through the gracious lens of a compassionate Creator who loves and made us all to be bearers of the divine image! We lack the creativity to see ourselves in the other.
So then, if the Church is to play any part in repairing our tattered social fabric, we must admit the complexities of our present circumstances while simultaneously placing our confidence in a wise God who relishes hard questions and will not crumble when we confess uncertainty. We must admit humility but abandon the fragility that would cause us to retreat from tough conversations.
Is it possible for us to wrestle together, not simply so that we can win, or promote our own agenda, but for the sake of understanding and being understood?
Is it possible that when confronted with apparent impasse we hold stubbornly to one another with confidence in a God who reconciles, heals, and makes all things new?
Can we set aside our political identities, our social location, our economic interests, our institutional commitments in embrace of the simple truth that our futures are inextricably linked, and that illness can become wellness when our ‘I’ becomes ‘We’? (This quote belongs to Malcolm not Martin – surprised?)
What if this is what the Church held up as a defining characteristic of our community?
What if we refused to be co-opted by those with purely political, social, economic motives that compromise the integrity of our affirmation of God’s image in every human being, period?
What if Christ truly became the mediator and lens through which we accessed one another and engaged our world?
What if the Church became the place where we fought faithfully with and for one another without falling out?
We have this capacity. We demonstrate it in our families, as dysfunctional as they may be.
We have this potential. We realize it in our marriages and with our children as heartbreaking and challenging as it is at times.
We have this ability. We exercise it daily with friends and co-workers – even when it goes unnoticed and is unappreciated.
We have this creativity. We witness it in our inventiveness and innovation. We must use our powers for the greatest good.
The Church can lead in repairing our worn and tattered social fabric…
We can participate in this healing work, if we have the will…
We have the capacity.
We have the potential.
We have the ability.
We have creativity.
But, do we share the will?
It remains to be seen, but I am confident. I remain stubbornly hopeful that this is not the end!