Friday, August 12 2022
This Sunday’s gospel is a challenging passage for me, as I do not like confrontation. As a Christian, I see part of my mission is to try and create peace wherever I go, in the name of the Prince of Peace, Jesus. Here, we witness that same Jesus actually stating that He came to earth to cause division. This boggles my mind; how I’ve built up my ministry around one way of acting is now challenged by the same God who calls for division at some points.
While studying this scripture at length, I cannot help but recognize that we live in a broken and divided world. We all have different views and stances on topics. In some arguments, I also see scripture used to defend these points of view, as the Gospel’s effect on people can spawn derision among our ranks. The existence of different Christian sects illustrate these divisions amongst Christ’s followers. It seems to be difficult to find hope at some points based on these facts. Where is the good news in this?
I hope we can find the good news in the fact that there are still conversations happening with Christians around the world, looking to bridge the chasms that divide us. There are continued dialogues with multiple denominations. In recent years, The Episcopal Church has bridged a gap between the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), which is one of the three major groups of the Lutheran Church here in the U.S. Our bishops from both denominations have established relationships and we agree in creed and in doctrine about our beliefs: to the extent that an Episcopal priest could cover for a Lutheran pastor of the ELCA and vice-versa.
Frank Sinatra sang a song called “That’s What God Looks Like to Me.” In the song, Sinatra sings to his son what God looks like to him. One of the lyrics he sings about God is “His heart is like a mountain: so vast and so strong. That's why all of his children have room to belong.” I believe that God is big enough to be on both sides of an argument, given that the argument is not morally against the unconditional love of God.
When typing the word broken before, I was reminded of the communion wafer on Sunday mornings that Fr. Duncan and I break in half at both the 8:00am and 10:00am services. This happens immediately following the Lord’s Prayer. In the Prayer Book, it’s called The Fraction. The fraction is the breaking of one bread for the many. As a church that believes in full presence, we believe Jesus is present in each and every piece that is broken off, as we share in the meal together. We will be receiving communion in the church with people who differ from us across the aisle and across the world. This broken bread is symbolic of how we come together. Although we have different views, the good news is that we still strive for wholeness, despite the brokenness.
We still pray for peace in the world. We pray for those whose theology may differ from ours. I hope we can acknowledge that despite the differences, we are attempting in the church to worship the Almighty, the author of peace and lover of concord, who’s heart is like a mountain - so vast and so strong. Amen.
Your sibling in Christ,