So tell me your story. The details matter; your experiences matter, your life matters.
We in the church need to hear how the structures and attitudes of our world affect your life on a day to day basis. I will do my best to listen understand and ultimately act in a way that gives a blessing to you and others. I will be honest and admit that at times I will fail, so I ask God to help and guide me.
Can you pray this with me?
God's Children Divided
In the Bible, St. Paul explains that as people are renewed in Jesus Christ, they see that the distinctions between people made by a broken world are artificial. They are creations of human cultures and structures . This one thing, faith and science agree on; we are all of the same species. In that renewal there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all! (Colossians 3:11 NRSV)
Just because these classifications, distinctions, and dividing lines are artificial does not mean they are unimportant; they are real. People have been killed because of them, black men & police officers, Jews and Palestinians, Shia and Sunni Muslims, Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox Christians.
Even when these problems don't lead to death they affect the lives we live everyday. How do I know this? I hear the stories from the people I minister to every day. As a pastor I have the amazing opportunity to cross boundaries and enter into the many, varied, and different communities that make up our society. I remember one day last year where I talked with middle and working class kids and their parents on the school yard, counseled and helped a woman about to loose her apartment, then had dinner at a country club overlooking the Manhattan Skyline with some really well to do folks. I have had the privilege to minister to firefighters, police, and EMT's as well as pray with recovering attics and homeless men. Guess what? They all had stories, and lives that matter.
I must confess I am angry at world which is trying to tell me that I can not listen to this person's or that person's story. I need to hear the stories of black men and women, I need to hear the stories of police and firefighters. I must hear the story of worker trained for the job that no longer exists and likewise, that of the immigrant come to work to send money home to his or her family. I need to listen to the story of those fleeing the almost apocalyptic destruction in Syria. I need to take in the grief of those who feel the world is changing too fast.
The truth is, if I can not admit that black lives matter, why should I expect someone to think that my life matters? If I can not listen to the story of how dangerous and difficult it is to serve in the police department, why should I expect someone to take the time to listen to my fears and worries? We can only access universal truth through the particular stories of actual people. If I declare the stories of a group I don't like as invalid, I am negating my own story. Therefore, I need to hear your story and I pray that I have the courage not to let society's labels get in the way.
Why must I do this?
Because God heard my story. Christ answers it everyday by placing people in my life who support, listen, and counsel me (even when I am really behaving like a jerk!). More important than this, I am Christian and a disciple of Jesus Christ,which means I am to follow his lead and show compassion, hospitality, and concern to my fellow children of God no matter how the world classifies them.
I realize this is hard work, this is truly spiritual warfare. I will need all the strength that the Spirit can give just to make a halting effort. I also know that I will fail at times, because, I admit I have failed in the past to truly listen, and I have certainly failed other times in taking action.
I pray for God's forgiveness and ask for renewal of my life. I will also pray for allies wherever I can get them, I will not be picky; there is just too much listening and work to be done.
Be blessed and become a blessing,