Whenever the news is discouraging, as in another school shooting or another black man is killed, my spirit shudders and wants to shut out what I see, what I read.
Small Kindnesses and Building Relationships
Yet I find so much hope in our world. Whether it's the small things I do through kindnesses throughout the day or serving a biracial church that is building relationships of trust and compassion or whether it's the actions of other people: the young people speaking out against school shootings or black people and allies speaking out against the killing of innocent black men.
I am fortunate to have thoughtful colleagues, pastors, in real life and on facebook, who give voice to their thoughts, who ground their thoughts in their theology, in their faith in God.
Each faith tradition seeks goodness of the whole. If it does not, it is a cult.
Muslims, Buddhists, Jews, Hindus, Christians, Sikhs move toward light, toward goodness along the path that each person has been given. Compassion is the heart, the center of many if not all of these traditions.
Where hatred exists, there is fear. Fear of that which lies beyond our understanding. Or fear of being unlovable. Or fear that God is, indeed, a God who seeks justice.
Tucking God in a box
I speak from the Christian tradition, as a woman who has served as pastor. Too many times, we attempt to box God up, domesticate Jesus, pin the Eternal Spirit down. When it's convenient, we take God out of the box. Evil, via the urge to control, the urge to dominate, killed Jesus.
But you know the story from the Bible, right? God will not remain in our human-made boxes. God is like that flower that breaks through the concrete. Jesus laughed and broke free of the concrete.
- God is the earth that shifts and shakes beneath us.
- God is the sun that shines upon us.
- God is the wind that breathes upon us.
- God is the rain that nurtures our dryness, our hollowness.
We can argue with and fight against this unrestrained God all we want but God brings beauty forth from suffering, from violence.
God does not cause the violence or the suffering but God is with us in the form of Shekinah, She who dwells among us, the radiance who flashes forth in our wilderness times.
An Active Faith
What does an active faith look like today?
- Some of us will read, offer prayer, teach/preach, raise awareness, inspire hope for the incoming of God's dream for our world.
- Some of us will support the women and youth, the men and children who march for a world that will be respectful of all people.
- Some of us will organize in our own towns, cities, villages to bring about awareness and justice for people who struggle against racial and/or economic injustice.
- Some of us will donate money to organizations that support our dream for a better world.
- Some of us will volunteer or apply for a paying job or create a consulting job for agencies that will bring about a more just world that shows compassion regardless of our gender, our skin color, our physical, emotional, or cognitive abilities.
There is much work to be done. There is much dismantling that is happening. There is much building to do.
Finding a faith community, where trust, education, encouragement, awareness, can be so helpful as we go about the work God has called us to do.