Dear St. Paul’s,
I was talking with my girlfriend about a paper she’s writing. She’s looking at how the events that caused the big changes and conflicts in the 20th century were a culmination of the changes in our thinking over several centuries. We went from a top-down community where we were fixed in our roles by God and the church, to a world where we matter as individuals, struggling to figure out how to share existence with others. Talk about a headache!
We’re trying to figure the same thing out as a church. We hold to this beautiful tradition that dates back 2000 years, with many changes along the way, that usually held to a top-down model. On the other hand, we are individuals who have preferences, hopes, fears, baggage, and certainly opinions, the same as the outside world. What does that mean for us as we continue this ever-evolving path of the Jesus Movement?
We try to balance our unity in our love for one another with our diversity in personal opinions and preferences. I’m rereading about the Anglican Communion. Though we’ve been guilty of clumsy and violent support of evils in our history, the gift we bring is that we decided to work with one another when we have different ways of living out our commitment to following Jesus. We offer a church where we as individuals can be ourselves, and the community is better, not worse, for it. We grow into our best selves because we allow room for our differences, and challenge one another in our individuality to look at ourselves. This is a hard balance to strike, yet is what helps us be who Jesus calls us to be.
What would the world around us gain if they were to take on this way of living? How can we be part of the broader world that would bring this possibility into how we see one another? Ourselves? Something to ponder as we continue to find our society in a crucible of how we think and see the world. Blessings to you in this Eastertide!
Rev. Jeffrey A. Dodge