Genesis 1:1-2:4a; Psalm 8; 2 Corinthians 13:11-13; Matthew 28:16-20
Diversity and Unity
My sisters and brothers, I must say that I am greatly concerned, because we seem to be moving to a point in the history of our world, unlike that we have seen for many decades. I am afraid we all should be concerned, and we can no longer sit on the sidelines and watch helplessly. We have witnessed images on television that have been both confusing, appalling, and divisive. We have seen violence imparted on our own people, by our own people, and often fueled by political opportunism, racism, hatred, anger, and frustration. What began as peaceful protests by God’s people, who were speaking out against the atrocities of a hate-filled murder of an innocent man of color, have become something else.
We have seen these peaceful demonstrations becoma an opportunity for looting and destruction, but even more surprising, they have become an opportunity for political scheming. As Episcopalians, we have had one of our own church and sacred scriptures used as a prop to manipulate and continue the message of violence and division all of which, stand in juxtaposition to Our Lord’s message of peace, reconciliation, and loving our neighbor. What have we become?
Our nation was founded on a simple motto, “E Pluribus Unum” or out of many, one. Think about that phrase for a moment. Out of many diverse communities, neighborhoods, cultures, languages, races, and differences, this country has stood for the human hope that we might become one, together, unified to stand as a beacon of hope for the world. We are not unified by a common race, language, or even a common ideology, other than the ideals that we all are created equal and have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We are a nation of diversity brought together in unity, but that union is only holding on by a thread. We need to come together and re-focus our hope on Christ and on the truth that only Our Lord can be our hope in times like these.
Our brother Paul wrote to a little church in Corinth, ” Put things in order, listen to my appeal, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.” We would do well to listen to his exhortation my sisters and brothers. We would do well to put things in order, to put aside our differences, and to seek the community of love that is found in the inner life of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Community of Love
Within our Trinitarian understanding of the very life of God, we find a truth that there is the possibility of diversity within unity, because we see it lived out within the God-head itself. The diversity of mission and person (Father Creator, Son Redeemer, and Holy Spirit Sustainer) are together loving each other and loving us as one. We would do well to see how that same community of love is possible even today in our nation, in our state, county, city, and within the church.
Even God’s creation itself is a tapestry of diverse creatures living in harmony and all for the common life we share. We as a people should embrace the real possibility and hope that even today, when we are struggling to be one, our distinctions are our strengths, our differences are our appeal, and our differing viewpoints become our hope. However, we must respect the diversity, we must honor the dignity of every human being, and we must seek justice for all and not just for some who wield the power of the day. Our Lord and Savior demonstrated that real power comes not from might and fist and weapon and armor. Real power comes from a willingness to die for a friend, to stand naked and afraid before those who would destroy you and stand up for what you believe is truth.
The True Master of Our Lives
Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” On the cross, Jesus did not succumb to the human desire to say, “Look at me,” or to resort to retaliation, destruction, or the call to try and quieten those, with whom his mission came in conflict.
Jesus could have left the cross, brought down destruction on the religious system that convicted him. He could have undermined the political Roman system of injustice and established his reign, but he did not. No, Our Lord demonstrated the real power of love by remaining faithful to his mission, and by remaining vulnerable to love, and by forgiving us for our hatred and violence. Jesus said, “Forgive them Father for they know not what they do.” Jesus showed us real power, by showing us what it means to follow him, his teachings, and the sacred story of reconciling love that we find in those Holy Scriptures, often used for unholy purposes. Jesus is the only true Master of Our Lives, the true leader of our efforts and the mission of the church, and if we fail to look to him as our guide, our work will be unholy, and our mission will fail, our nation will fail, and the church will lose its way.
Over the last two years, I have reminded this community that we have a mission to do, and it is a mission given to us by Our Lord Jesus Christ. Our marching orders have been and always will be this, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.” Making disciples is so much more than impeccable liturgy and music, wonderful programs of Christian education and Sunday School, the best parish life fellowship events, or even the most helpful Local Mission and Outreach efforts. Making disciples means that we must be transformed by the message of holy love given to us and lived out for us by Jesus Christ. We must be transformed by the message of love in Jesus Christ, so that even as we stand at the precipice of change in our nation, we Christians will be willing to carry that message of hope to the world. We must be so transformed by the message of love in Jesus Christ, that we will move forward believing there is always hope, there is always a light to guide us, and there is always God’s call that in the darkness of circumstances, a new day is possible.
We must believe and we must live in that hope in our daily lives. We must work tirelessly, so that we might make it possible for all of God’s creation; all of the diversity of people, to live in unity in Christ. So, sisters and brothers, when all around us looks bleak and all seems hopeless, I call each of you to pray for peace, pray for reconciliation, and pray for that new day, which God promises will come, and is just over the horizon. I call each of you to pray, but please do more than just pray, I call you to actively get busy and work for justice, work for reconciliation, and work for peace. Hold our leaders responsible, call them to account, demand justice, and speak out against the atrocities being waged against not only a select group, but against all of us, because we all are God’s children; we are diversity in unity.