There’s a lot of guidance for us in this Book about how to follow a different path, with the help and the grace of God’s Spirit. There are alternatives to the violent cycles of the world within it: forgiveness, compassion, telling the truth with integrity. They’re painfully slow and they take a lifetime to practice, but they’re the only way out.
St. Mark’s, please do not underestimate the importance of your public witness of being a welcoming and affirming, More Light church. Thank you for sending overtures calling for ordination policy change and marriage equality…Thank you for connecting LGBT issues with all other social justice issues… While we appropriately honor this progress, the bending of the arc of history toward justice as Dr. King spoke of, we are also aware that in this time, being a Christian is complicated and problematic.
Maybe what Jesus is trying to teach Peter by replying with such an outlandishly large number is that mercy takes repetition in order to gather strength. In other words, forgiveness takes practice. Maybe it’s something we never “get right,” so we have to keep at it.
While they were in captivity in a foreign land, this is the story the Jewish people told about their history. Passover was foundational to their identity. This is how they were to remember the fundamental nature of who they were—God’s own people, a freed people. The Passover story prompts us to think about the various stories we tell.
There are people who, like John of Patmos, have such bold visions of hope in the midst of despairing circumstances. They catch a glimpse of the New Jerusalem and they share it with the rest of us, and it changes us forever. They see a hint of what the world will look like at the culmination of history, the redemption and renewal of all things.
These Four Horsemen and the destruction they unleash aren’t signs of the things to come to come as much as signs of what has always been and what currently is… The saints robed in white are the faithful who have endured the Four Horsemen and emerged victorious. They didn’t participate in the destruction, but they endured it.
The victory of the Lamb is a grand, sweeping, cosmic one, as John of Patmos illustrates, but it manifests in a million small moments when the Lamb’s people “from every tribe language, people, and nation” witness to that victory by choosing peace. That’s a posture that is needed now more than ever…
It is indeed time for the American church, namely the white members within it, to wake up to the reality of our country as it is today, as it has been, the reality of all those who suffer under the weight of oppression and violence. We who wash our hands of responsibility for what is happening in our country are asleep to the truth.
Maybe these metaphors about armor and evil are about protection, not aggression; about defense, not offense. These symbols of war and violence are inverted to symbols of peace and nonviolence… whatever the “battle” is—whether it’s personal, political, or somewhere in between—the defensive, protective, peaceful “armor” is the same.
What are the broken places you notice? What broken places have been restored in your own life? Knowing we are a people restored can only fuel the drive to become a restorative people.