“All this is from God...who gave us the ministry of reconciliation” 2
Another election has come and gone. Some of the candidates I
voted for won. And some of my candidates lost. Soon I’ll be visiting family for
Thanksgiving and we’ll discover that some of us in the family voted different
then others. And we’ll still come together at the same table, enjoying the
blessings of food and fellowship together on this holiday.
How is that possible? When I read the newspaper and watch
television, I am told that there are two Americas
. There is a blue and a red
And neither the twain shall meet. We live in different neighborhoods and towns,
consume different products, and watch different television shows, for news as
well as entertainment. Do you like NASCAR? Do you listen to NPR? Do you like
steak or are you a vegetarian?
Micro targeting voters has become key in winning elections.
And our lifestyles, where we live, who we associate with, what we do for a
living, have all been calculated by pollsters to tell us how we will vote and
to which America
we belong. This movement has intensified over the last generation so that this
fragmentation has become reflected in lopsided vote totals and the leading of
lives where we rarely run into folks who disagree with us. How does one live
with difference in such a situation?
The nice thing about family is that more often then not
you’re stuck with them. While much of our lives are chosen, this is an area
that is largely not, even for those of us who were adopted. And so the question
of living and relating to folks who think differently is built in or at least
should be during the holiday season. I think we need more of those kind of
situations, where the relations and connections we have with one another are
stronger and deeper then politics or whether someone agrees with us or not.
Could the church be that kind of place? For the apostle
Paul, the church’s mission is that of reconciliation, to be a movement for
healing and wholeness in a fragmented world. And yet churches often fall into
the same trap as the culture, with blue and red churches, where folks are
expected to fit a certain set of beliefs before they can belong.
But the one advantage the church has, the one thing we can
offer is the communion table. Like the family table around thanksgiving, the
communion table is a place where folks can overcome difference with food and
fellowship and a deeper set of bonds.
Those bonds are not determined by whether we are democrat or
republican, black or white, gay or straight, tea party or occupy, hunter or
vegetarian, cat owner or dog owner, single or married, city or rural, old or
young. They are not determined by whatever demographic that a micro pollster
has put us into.
Rather such reconciliation happens because of what God has
done for us. The communion table can happen, like family tables not because of
our chosen lives but because of the fact that we are chosen, by adoption or
birth or circumstance, to be included as family. It is to that which we belong
by virtue of God’s love for us.
Now not all churches or families function this way. And the
holiday seasons can be a painful time as a result. But my prayer is that they
would. And that whatever it is that estranges us from one another, God can help
us find those connections and relations that can make us whole, as individuals,
as a community, and as a country.
Rev. Dwight Welch
First Congregational (United Church of Christ