BY LENA CHAPIN | March 11, 2021
Today’s Readings

Just this morning over a cup of tea, my friend and I were discussing a mutual friend’s activism. It turned into a kind of blast fest, I am ashamed to say. “He doesn’t meet people where they are” and “it feels less like engagement and education and more like an accusatory lecture,” were some of the modern-day versions of “by the power of Beelzebul, he drives out demons,” uttered. Even though we both agreed with the underlying message of this person’s activism, we were scared or turned off by the method in which he was moving towards achieving our mutual goal of creating a more just world. 

From exclusion to inclusion, bridging divides

It is important to question tactics and messages when they feel accusatory, exclusive, or dangerous. But it is also our responsibility to enfold, encourage, and join hands with folks along the journey of navigating and forging the path to justice. When we exclude people from the table, refuse to listen and engage, or continuously discuss people’s actions with others but not with them, we are failing our kingdom and only further dividing it. If our goals are the same, perhaps we should join together on this path to justice as opposed to scattering. Today I am repenting for literally and figuratively excluding this friend from the table.

His tactics are different from my own, but we have a lot to learn from each other to reach a broader group and do even more good. It is easy to point fingers at things that we find uncomfortable—to start shouting “demons”—but, as Jesus points out, that cuts everyone off from communion. Dialogue is desperately needed to bridge these divides. It seems difficult, but it comes down to simple conversation. And if we can’t converse with people who want the same things as us, how are we ever going to build bridges with those who oppose us?

For Reflection:

  • Where have you heard the modern-day equivalent of  “by the power of Beelzebub, he drives out demons” lately?
  • When have you felt fingers were unjustly pointed at you? Where have you pointed the finger?
  • Where can you bridge divides? How can you start with a simple conversation?

4 replies
  1. Barry Naylor
    Barry Naylor says:

    “If we can’t converse with people who want the same things as us, how are we ever going to build bridges with those who oppose us?”
    An issue I have found, especially in some ecumenical dialogue, it seeking to reach out to others, offering the hand of friendship but finding a brick wall in response – often because I have made no secret that I am a gay man. I have found some fellow Christians not only refusing to accept the hand of friendship but actively seeking to subvert my ministry. This is a painful reality to share and, in the end, prayer has been my main response and support. God bless us all.

    Reply
  2. Dr Eileen Quinn Knight
    Dr Eileen Quinn Knight says:

    Often within the congregation of the Church there is an established hierarchy: it is peaceful but well defined. As being a person who wants transformation for all I reach out to one person everyday to see If we can share God’s goodness in a simple conversation perhaps about the saint of the day or perhaps about the Scriptures we just heard. This establishes a place of transformation for both of us. By hearing the words of the other person, I listen attentively and with all my presence, to what the person is relating to me. Often in sharing the scripture, I have a new point of meditation to bring to my day. If I am sharing the saint of the day, I have someone to imitate that enriches what my thoughts were. It is grace-filled to have this opportunity and to take advantage of God’s call to holiness with each other.

    Reply
  3. Gregoria Vega Byrnes
    Gregoria Vega Byrnes says:

    It is ok to walk away if you have tried over & over to help but have been ignored.
    When you hear that you are impatient or that the organization can’t move that quickly find another organization that is willing to listen.
    Action not just listening is necessary for change.

    Reply

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