One Another

Oh, we get all tangled up in our own sense of centric living. Me, me. me.

A while ago now, I pastored a fabulous congregation in Michigan, the Florence Church of the Brethren/Mennonite. An ongoing example of health in the midst of humanness. The times that they put aside personal need in order to care for the need of another made them stronger.

For example:

For about 8 of the 12 years our family was there, worship was planned monthly by the church members. Individuals, families or friends would group up or fly solo to create a theme, choose hymns, write liturgy and determine sermon or worship formats. Kurt and I often preached but we also had Oprah-type Q/As with the whole congregation. Some months we sang the old hymns. Some months we sang mostly new hymns. I was told by an older church matriarch who preferred the old hymns that she sang the new hymns that others liked because they sang the hymns she liked. That seemed fair to her.  Indeed, that was the holistic approach: less a chance to even the score and get "my" way by any one person, and more a taking of turns to express faith and thought and music in a shared and varied way. We were all in it together. Worship was good. Another time, they opened their homes, wallets, and time to a an instant. No meetings, no voting....just putting aside self to create a larger self. This family was integrated into the whole as we all looked after one another.

This is health.

At the Richmond Church of the Brethren, during our twice annual Love Feast, there was great desire to progress the experience forward by adding a third circle to the feetwashing ritual. Instead of just a men's circle and a women's circle, we added an all circle. I noted the first time we went this way that a very progressive woman who had been vocal about making this happen, chose to sit in the women's circle instead of meeting her own need because she didn't want our older women who were uncomfortable with the new set up to feel left behind. 

It seems now, in my beloved denomination, that the same people who cried out during adversarial discussions that our peace agency On Earth Peace, "does not meet my need" are now writing manifestoes and statements that are specific to exclude LGBTQIA members from welcome. Apparently, one's own need to be included and cared for is stronger than the need to meet that of another.


Honest to God, I do not know why those who are LGBTQIA exclusionists in the name of Scripture who profess to love Jesus do not lean more heavily on the gospels for how we should move. Jesus never ever once said, "Look to your own need". We like, and I have used it often, the metaphor of the airline teaching to place your own oxygen mask on before you take care of a child or older person next to you. The assumption of the secular airlines is that by putting your own oxygen mask on you will be able to take care of another. One instruction is not given without the other.

These current statements stop at their own masks.

Just the other day, I preached from Luke where the Pharisees whispered in the doorways questions as to why Jesus ate with sinners and tax collectors. Jesus wasn't just eating with them, he was calling them. They were his inner circle.

If you are part of the culture's inner circle, worried that by default the margins are encroaching upon your space, welcome it. Open your arms. Look to the care of another. See to the sin in your own eye (that is from Jesus) at the same time you are welcoming another. You cannot go wrong. You really can't.

Do I have an equal admonishment for those on the non-exclusionary end. Well, no I don't. The work of organizations like BMC (Brethren Mennonite Concerns) is founded on working for the other, continues to work that all may be welcomed. All. No exclusions.

If you are a follower of Jesus, and feel more comfortable condemning others and telling them how to behave, then you're focusing on the wrong stuff in the Gospels. You're missing the point.

I don't want you to miss the point. I don't want you to miss the salvation that is right here right now whenever we love. Greatest commandment? Love. Love God. Love Neighbor. Love Self.

The work of spiritual direction is to help those who do not love themselves or do not feel loved to find that love, that belonging, that sense of self that is 360 degrees and includes self, God, neighbor. All.

Let's look out for one another.