Every morning, you come in, place your coat on the hook, take your chair down from your desk, and then move to the first order of business:
“I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
In recent days, I have been reflecting a lot on the United States. Specifically, about our fundamental declaration of being united and indivisible. Neither seem to be true in our present landscape. As a follower of Jesus, this has me prayerfully pondering how I am called to respond.
In Paul’s letter to the faith community in Corinth, he writes, “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us.”
In the Book of Common Prayer, in the Outline of Faith, we state, “The mission of the Church is to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.” And, “The Church pursues its mission as it prays and worships, proclaims the Gospel, and promotes justice, peace, and love.”
Seems clear enough. Those of us who have chosen to follow in the way of Jesus have chosen to take on the ministry of reconciliation that has been entrusted to us. As the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement, we understand that our mission is to restore all people to God and to each other in Christ. And we do this through prayer, worship and promoting the Gospel values of justice, peace and love.
In a country that is clearly not united, but rather very deeply divided, we as followers of Jesus, regardless of our ideological perspective, have been first and foremost called to the ministry of reconciliation. Make no mistake, this does not mean, “go along to get along.” No, this is Baptismal Covenant living: “seek and serve Christ in ALL PERSONS, loving your neighbor as yourself.” And, “strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of EVERY human being.”
Our country desperately needs to move away from a culture of denigrating, demeaning, and demonizing others, because it just continues to create an incredible chasm that moves us further and further from God’s dream of the Beloved Community. Our country desperately needs those of us entrusted with the ministry of reconciliation to create space where people in our neighborhoods with divergent opinions can come together to share and listen to each others’ stories.
Beloved Community can happen. It will happen by God’s grace if we are intentional about creating holy space where all feel respected, appreciated and affirmed as Beloved children of God. Reconciliation will happen if we intentionally make our first choice to love God, love our neighbors, and love ourselves: Beloved Community.
Gospel > Jesus > Justice.