Reflections on the Gospels from a Justice Perspective written for St. Andrew's Episcopal Church by members of the congregation

Monday, September 21, 2015

Mark 9: 38-50

27 Sept.  2015       Mark 9:38-50
In today’s Gospel, Jesus points to three dangers to our current institutional church:  (1) the exclusivity of defining who are “authentic” followers of Jesus; (2) the exclusivity of “shoulds and oughts” versus the Gospel of unconditional love of neighbor; and (3) the numbness of complacency. 

I was privileged to spend an evening with Sr. Simone Campbell, organizer of the Nuns on the Bus, who addressed Jesus’ issues for our time.  She reminded us that Christians are called to "radical acceptance,” not exclusivity.  Since we are called as a community of human beings, we cannot leave anyone out. We make peace only by bringing everyone to the table, no matter how much we disagree with each other.  Our Presiding Bishop elect, Michael Curry, echoes the call into radical acceptance when he invites Episcopalians to become part of the Jesus movement.

Sr. Simone suggested that we could begin practicing unconditional love of our neighbor by reclaiming our foundational story of the common good, expressed in the Preamble to the Constitution. Rather than imagining ourselves rugged individualists, which she sees as the root cause of exploitation on all fronts, we could fight for a conversation about building a shared vision of “We the People” in 2015.  The General Convention of the Episcopal Church suggested doing this by going into neighborhoods.  We could choose to think more about how to bring our neighborhood together in conversation about the common good, including all those with whom we disagree.

Finally, Sr. Simone suggests that our complacency is our response to being besieged by antics and sound bites and polarizing event.  We have become numb; we lose our salt. Numbed by what we see, we don't engage in the hard work of conversation. We replace the hard work of real democracy with entertainment, and look at the performances, polls and ratings rather than face the crises we are in. Sr. Campbell concluded that we can replenish the salt within ourselves when we each do one thing and do it well.  What is your gift?  What do you do well?  And how can you use what you do well in community to work for the common good?

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