Friday, February 19, 2010

Yearning for Beloved Community

I wandered through the consignment store, looking for treasures. It is amazing what you can find in such places for pocket change. As I paid for a couple of picture frames, I saw the cashier's face change from a smile to a frown.

"Don"t let her eat that in here!" The words came out of her mouth in a rush. The child in a stroller was opening a lollipop. This was hardly a place where candy on the floor would be a crisis.

I reached for the little Spanish I know. "Ella est muy linda," I offered her parents, embarrassed by the harsh words of rejection. The child was very beautiful, undeserving of rebuke.

Her parents seemed to recover. As their eyes met mine, there was deep connection and mutual gratitude for shared space. The cashier turned away.

This was not a heroic moment. It was a tragic moment, one that bothers me deeply.

Why are we harsh with one another? What mars our souls so deeply that we cannot welcome one another? What are our children learning from us? How are they shaped by our unexamined biases?Beloved community can break through, anytime, anyplace. It cannot erase harsh words and violent acts. It can be a means of God's redemption of our weaknesses and our mistakes.

This Lent, let us pay attention to what disturbs us, particularly if it seems to bother no one else. It is in that place that the next work of reconciliation is likely to be done.

-- Bishop Hope Morgan Ward, Residing Bishop in the Mississippi United Methodist Conference.

Prayer: Disturb us, loving God, and work within that disturbance to soften our hearts and strengthen our vision for the reconciliation you intend for all people, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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