In high school I once wrote an article for the school newspaper on immigration. My mom was always one to write articles for the local newspaper so she encouraged me to write this article for my school paper. It started with, “They’re illegal, not American. They raise crime rates and lower statistics on education. They’re stealing our jobs and destroying our country.” Let’s just say it didn’t go over very well.
In thinking about what to write for this month’s article, it occurred to me to simply thank you. Thank you for allowing me the privilege of standing in your pulpit, Rick’s pulpit, and preaching for most of January. Thank you for the privilege of that work and the trust it assumes. I am grateful more than I can express.
We have spent the month talking about what it means to be “beloved.” We called one another “beloved.” We heard about Dr. King’s vision of the Beloved Community and the powerful challenge of liberty and responsibility. And then we heard from Henri Nouwen whose book, Life of The Beloved has been a favorite of mine for many years. He too understood the idea that our belovedness is more than “feel good faith” but a deep call to seeing the world differently and acting within it accordingly.
To be chosen as the Beloved of God is something radically different. Instead of excluding others, it includes others. Instead of rejecting others as less valuable, it accepts others in their own uniqueness. It is not a competitive, but a compassionate choice. Our minds have great difficulty in coming to grips with such a reality. Maybe our minds will never understand it. Perhaps it is only our hearts that can accomplish this. Every time we hear about ‘chosen people’, ‘chosen talents’, or ‘chosen friends’, we almost automatically start thinking about elites and find ourselves not far from feelings of jealousy, anger, or resentment. Not seldom has the perception of others as being chosen led to aggression, violence, and war.
This is the foundation to what I understand as “unity.” The unity of the church is founded upon this understanding of what it means to be a human being. The challenge, I think, is evident. We often laud competition. We think our way through problems. We forget, sometimes to feel at all much less honor our feelings as part of who we are with as much value as our thinking.
“God so loved the world” begins the famous scripture verse. “Loved” not “conceptualized.” God’s feelings propelled God into the human flesh of the birth, life, and death of Jesus the Christ. A feeling.
All of creation began with a feeling.
So, I wanted to share my feeling of gratitude.
Peace and All Good Things,