We live in a society that separates. So much of our language is based more on notions of “either / or” rather than “and”. We talk about either “this” political party or “that” political party, either “conservatives” or “liberals”. We talk about either “this” way of doing religion or “that” way of doing religion (and I guess, that, too, is somewhat loosely based on “conservatives” or “liberals”). We talk about either the “haves” or the “have-nots”, the “legals” or the “illegals”, the “rich” or the “poor”. And through it all, we talk about the “secular” and the “sacred”, the “things of this world” and “the things of God”, the “human” and the “Divine”.
And, yet, we are told that Jesus came into our midst, both human and divine. There was no separation; rather there was a gathering of all into the Kingdom of God. This holy gathering is a new creation unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. And, yet, we are determined to keep it apart. We are determined to separate ourselves from each other, compartmentalizing our lives and drawing boundaries through our world, through our neighborhoods, and even through ourselves.
God does not call us to be someone that we are not. We are human, always and forever human. But until humanity becomes human unity, we are lost. And so we search for something that we know God can show us. We search for an eternity or a heaven or whatever you want to call it “out there” when our eternity waits for us here. God came into our midst, both human and Divine, that the two might come together, that what we do and who we are will join.
Ever Sunday morning, we profess that we believe in the holy catholic church. We are professing that we believe and indeed that we desire unity, a universal church not created out of sameness or conformity but out of love and respect for each other and for every part of the world around us. Both diversity and unity live together in this new Creation. It is a place of “both-and” rather than “either-or”. It means being part of a world that strives to live in unity. But it also means recognizing that sometimes we’ll have to live with a little bit of tension as we try to work differences through. I am clear, though, that even in the midst of those tensions, God is there, walare called to king us through it. God doesn’t cram anything down our throats and I don’t think we’re supposed to do that to other people either. William Sloan Coffin claimed that “diversity may be both the hardest thing to live with and the most dangerous thing to be without.” I think he was right. Because you see, that diversity is part of this new Creation. It is part of what is calling us to grow and change and become more like Christ with each step we take. And when we allow ourselves the opportunity to experience and share our diversity and perhaps even learn from it a little, we gain an experience of God that is unlike anything that we could have gained on our own.
In this Season of Lent, we are called to recognize those things in our lives that are not Christlike, that are not the way that God calls us to be. It is our calling to reflect on those things that make us less than human. Jesus walked this earth as a human to show us how to be human, to show us how to bring together who we are with what God calls us to be.
Dear Jesus, in whose life I see all that I would, but fail to be,
let thy clear light forever shine, to shame and guide this life of mine.
Though what I dream and what I do in my weak days are always two,
help me, oppressed by things undone, O thou whose deeds and dreams were one!