April – 2018
One Monday this last month I had an early morning dental appointment, then spent the rest of the day at home, working on my sermon. Everyone but the dog was at school or work and peace and quiet settled around the house.
Some days I wish peace and quiet could settle around the world, especially peace. We are a world that, in many ways, is not at peace. As different communities in our country are rocked by bombs and shootings, we are reminded that we are a long way from peace.
As I write this the Council of Bishops of our United Methodist Church are meeting to discuss the future of the church—especially whether we can find a way forward in the issues of human sexuality in a way that doesn’t split the denomination.
I can’t remember a time when our country was so politically polarized. I’m not sure when it happened, but somehow in the world of politics, compromise has come to mean failure.
And it isn’t only that. It seems it is getting easier for people in our communities and neighborhoods to be polarized over just about anything. We seem to want to passionately argue about every issue that comes up, and often our passion gets in the way of our ability to listen, to ourselves, to each other, to wisdom.
I looked up the word ‘passion’ and found these two definitions: 1. Strong and barely controllable emotion; 2. The suffering and death of Jesus. These two definitions are vastly different.
The passion in our world relates to the kind of passion that insists on having its own way no matter the cost. But the passion of Jesus is a love that is stronger than the greatest passions of the world. The suffering and crucifixion of Jesus reflects a love that was willing to pay the price of the damage that some of our passions cause.
As I reflect on the passion of Jesus, it feels wrong to so passionately defend my rights, or insist on my own way, to the point of refusing to listen to anyone who doesn’t agree with me. Instead I feel called to ask, where can we find common ground? How can we work together to better our world? How do we protect and care for the most vulnerable among us?
I wish the whole world could begin to try to comprehend the profound love expressed by Jesus’ passion. Though I can’t passionately force anyone to do that, I can invite the Holy Spirit to examine me as I spend time in prayer and repentance. I can take a step back and reflect on what it means to see this world through the eyes of Christ and love with the heart of Christ. We can do these things, together, with great courage. Because we are a people who know that even in death there is resurrection. That is how strong love is!