A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. Jesus - John 13:34-35
Yesterday was a rich day; complex, nuanced and deeply layered. The theme - of course - was acknowledging the 10th anniversary of the 9-11 attacks and thinking about how we - as followers of the Jesus Way - are engaging the ongoing task of bringing peace and hope to a our broken world.
Rebekah's message at morning worship was powerful; her words centered around hope, and of living into the powerful truth that not only is light stronger than darkness but that we are the emissaries of light. We are charged (quite literally holding a charge) with the responsibility to illuminate - to tell the truth about the Gospel simply by being, and we are loved so completely in order that we might - in turn - love eloquently and joyfully.
In the afternoon many of us from First Presbyterian headed over to the Episcopalian Church to join together for a shared memorial service. It was a meaningful hour of remembrance followed by fellowship and refreshments in the "Parish Hall" (gotta love those Anglicized building tags!).
It was a very appropriate move for us to join together with another community for 9-11. The coming together, while not a serious stretch for any of us, was symbolic of so much more.
In itself, the ecumenical observance was not exactly groundbreaking; Episcopalians are not, after all, generally so much of a scary bunch (our neighbors at Holy Innocents' are no exception) and the denomination always tends to get check marks next to "Plays well with others" on their report card. But it was the idea of stepping, if only a little bit, outside our normal comfort zone that made the event so important on this particular day.
Because I am concerned that many too many church-going Americans are buying in to the beginnings of what amounts to a confusing of Christian Faith with religious nationalism. When both America and the church begin to develop a "siege mentality" at the same time and in response to the same concerns, then the church needs to take a serious and deliberate step back from the politics of "My way or the highway," exclusivity, the move toward fundamentalism and retrenchment into the shell of our own narrow interpretations of truth....
Today, any movement toward a more visible unity is vitally important. The world needs to see how we love one another. In fact, the world is more likely to receive the love that Jesus has charged us to share "to the ends of the Earth" when Christians embrace each other with more sincerity and more joy in the heart of our own communities.
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.
So afterwards, after worship and more visiting, my Sunday evening small group gathered at CrackerBarrell for dinner together. We didn't do anything else, really, other than love one another. And it was good.
It is by THIS that all people will know that you are Followers of the Jesus Way - DEREK