“A mind, once expanded by a new idea, never returns to its original dimensions.”
- Oliver Wendell Holmes
"The way of the church is not to condemn anyone for eternity, but to pour out the balm of God's mercy on all those who ask for it with a sincere heart. We in the church must leave behind her four walls and go out in search of those who are distant, those who are on the "outskirts" of life. We must adopt fully God's own approach, which is that of mercy. The church must feel the impetus to become like Jesus for all of humanity."
This was written by Pope Francis. It resonates with me as I awaken to the fact that God is larger than any religion and larger than the labels and distinctions we give to people or people groups.
Much of the language of the Bible talks in ways that the ancient people at that time would understand. Where is God? In the ancient world they understood the universe differently. In three theirs: up there is heaven, where the gods live; here is all of creation, where we live; and down below was the underworld, furthest from the gods. Yet the Bible also hints at something much deeper and more authentic as well. Fast forward thousands of years and we know that the earth is not flat and that the heavens are not up there, but all around us. We are not at the center of the universe, but are part of an ever changing, always in motion creation. So where is God for us now? Up – Down, Inside - Outside…our view of our universe and conversely God is evolving as we get more information. What’s interesting is that the Bible is still relevant today and pointed at the universe we now know to be true. Paul tells those in the Church of Rome that in God “We live and move and have our being!” Paul is saying YES! God is all things and is in all things and around all things. Paul evolves in his own view of God and by the end of his ministry he even is telling us that there is no Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female. Paul is trying to describe the Oneness of the creator and creation. He sees that labels and categories in this regard are not helpful when trying to describe his experience of the Divine. He comes to discover the Spirit of God in everything - the electricity that the all of creation is plugged into. God gives motion and purpose and oneness to it all; for in God we live and move and have our being!
Throughout the Bible there are glimpses of this universal truth. Hear O’ Israel the Lord our God is One! So Jesus comes into the world to point to this reality of interconnectedness by focusing on that which we have marginalized as not belonging to the whole. Jesus seeks to reconcile all of creation back to wholeness by serving the least of these…and Jesus further tells His disciples that by serving the least of these they are serving God itself! He sends His disciples into the world to continue bringing God’s redeeming grace and mercy to those that the world has said doesn’t belong in it!
That is the work of the Church my friends, that is what we are all here to do. We must bring the light of Christ, and be the light of Christ to those that the world would push away. Paul would say today there is no American and everyone else, there is no Christian or Muslim, there is no male and female…for in God’s eyes we are all His children…and we are all One in Him…for in Him we live and move and have our being!
Your faithful servant,