For quite a while now, the news has been filled with terrible stories of seemingly endless strife and division. There seems to be no limit to the cruel and hateful acts attitudes and beliefs that humanity perpetrates upon itself and upon anyone who is seen as the other. The other is the one who is different, the one who is unfamiliar, the one who looks or acts or believes, or speaks or relates in a way that we do not recognize or understand and so we distrust them, move away from them, protect ourselves from them and so isolate them and ourselves, creating two camps rather than following Jesus example and embracing those that are different or unlike ourselves, and thereby learn more of the wondrous multiplicity that exists in creation. For while we may forget this, God did create us all.
God is with us all and God loves us all.
Yes God loves and needs all of us, the non-believers and the faithful, the whites and the blacks, the men and the women, the gay and the straight and the trans and the questioning, the children and the adults, the lovers and the haters, the rich and the poor, the urban and the rural, the living and the dead.
All are part of the divine plan and all need to be welcomed to the table of fellowship, where generosity and compassion reign supreme and where we all are united as one beloved community, filled with differences and talents and unique ways of being, yet all are part of one creation, all are one with God.
There are racial and cultural and ethnic and religious and economic and gender and sexual divisions in our society. That we, as a people, as a society and as a nation have to try and heal and overcome these divides, acknowledge that they are challenges to our community and political discourse but not accept them as insurmountable. For we are made of better stuff, we have the ability to unite, in our differences, to be who we are and still be part of a whole, to each be a part of creation. That even though we are all from different backgrounds or beliefs or points of view, we each are brought to life by God and enlivened by a soul that is our divine self, the part of us that is beyond our history and our identity, the holy part of us that is stardust, that is golden, the part that is trying so hard to get back to the garden, the garden where we were all right, where we were whole and united with God. The place where our hearts and minds were at rest and held by God, a place of paradise and endless joy. Not a place where we live but a place we visit or that visits us, if we do not put up barriers and boundaries that prevent it. This is true in church just as much as anywhere else in life. Perhaps more so here, where we lift our lives up to something greater, when we ask for grace and forgiveness, for wisdom and justice and the presence of God and spirit in our lives.
Pastor Burke Owens