In the Book of Common Prayer it states, “The mission of the church is to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ. [. . .] The Church carries out its mission through the ministry of all its members.”
Now that we’ve got that clear, practically speaking, how do we live our ministry with the mission of reconciliation? Let me be more specific: in light of the present climate of incredible philosophical—and subsequent political—divisions, what role do we play, given our mission and ministry?
I was struck by an except I read from West Tennessee Bishop Phoebe Roaf’s sermon at the recent gathering of the Union of Black Episcopalians.
“As we continue to fight and struggle for the rights of black folks, remember this is bigger than us. There are a lot of other folks struggling, too. So, where are we when it comes to assisting our immigrant brothers and sisters? Where are we when it comes to maintaining the health of this planet Earth, our fragile home? Where are we when it comes to the issues facing our LGBTQIA brothers and sisters? Even if racial discrimination were eliminated from this church and this nation tomorrow [. . .] our work would not be done because, as Dr. Martin Luther King said, none of us is free as long as one of us is not free.”
I appreciate Bishop Roaf’s challenge, which suggests that as long any part of the body is broken, we are all broken, and as such we ALL have to do the heavy lifting of healing, of reconciliation in our world.
In my experience, the only way that healing and reconciliation are possible is through bridge-building via relationship building. Silo-ing and isolationism, regardless of what “side” you are on, only further deepens divisions.
The world needs those of us who have chosen to follow the Way of Jesus to be bridge-builders, healers, reconcilers. This is the work of becoming the Beloved Community.
The fundamental question we are called to ask in every situation, every encounter, every relationship is, “Are my actions fostering division and separateness or healing and reconciliation?”
Friends, the world needs us now more than ever to fully use our gifts for ministry to live into God’s mission of reconciliation!