A Word from the Pastor: Love One Another

How will we now live together? As a deeply divided nation, that is the question that lies before us. Will we continue in political factionalism, in dehumanizing and suspecting the “other” side, whomever the “other” may be? For those of us who feel like we “won” this week: Will we seek to paper over our differences and ignore or dismiss those who now feel that they or their loved ones are in physical jeopardy because of the results of this election? For those of us who feel that we “lost” (as a matter of full disclosure, I would include myself in this category): Will we break ties with those with whom we have profound disagreements and isolate ourselves out of fear or anger or disappointment? Will both sides continue to spiral apart, until there is no real connection between us?

As Good Samaritans, we are called to something different. We say that we are open-minded followers of Jesus who love and serve and include all people without exception. The hard part of that statement: the “all” in all people really does mean all: People we like, people we don’t like, people who agree with us and see everything our way, and people we cannot stand. We understand this as our mission because this is the mission Jesus gives us when he says: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:34) The way that Jesus showed this love was by advocating freely for and connecting with the last, the lost, and the least, by declaring that all were beloved and blessed in God’s sight, and when those actions got him into political trouble, by making himself completely vulnerable and emptying himself on the cross, showing us that no horrible act, no terrible decision, and no human-made alienation would or ever will take away God’s love for us all.

This is the sort of love to which Jesus is now calling and pointing us. A love that takes seriously and listens to those feeling desperate in the margins. A love that asks us to be vulnerable with and to empty ourselves to and for each other. A love that commands us to reach out to and to be advocates for the vulnerable and the voiceless and those with no helper.

Good Samaritan has an opportunity right now to model this kind of love and to be the kind of community of reconciliation our nation so desperately needs. This does not mean that we are to ignore our differences or simply pretend that all is well under the guise of an everything-will-be-okay “love.” That’s cheap love. Instead, I believe what we are creating together in this new faith community is a much more costly love. A love that requires us to build, together, a safe, wide tent where people from many different paths can come together to worship and to serve our neighbors who are in need, without judgment of anyone. A love that challenges us to open up to each other, sharing how we are thinking and feeling, with the desire to see God’s presence in each other. A love that asks us to carefully and faithfully disagree with each other at times, while still gathering us at the same table to be reconciled by God in Communion together, in spite of our differences. A love that always points us outside of ourselves, to aid and to care for those whom our world might easily forget.

This Sunday, we will come together once again to practice this sort of costly love. We will first gather around God’s table and be joined in Communion with God and with each other. We will offer special prayers for healing and anointing with Holy Oil, that we might be reconciled with God’s abundant grace. We will then spend our time in Spark2Serve after worship processing all that has happened in our nation this week, and reflecting on what it means to be a part of a community that seeks to love in the way Jesus both showed us and commanded us, even when that love is very costly.

I am grateful for each one of you, and I seek to grow more deeply in this love with you, the love Christ gave us and commanded us to share with all people. Even when it is very hard.