by Rev. Brendan Curran, Assoc. Minister         –          January 19, 2018

Jesus did not sit on a throne.  He did not occupy public office.  He spent very little of his time ministering in the temple. Jesus joined the people.  I imagine Jesus was barely noticeable by those in power for most of his ministry of reaching out to people and inviting them to embrace the possibilities of his vision of the reign of God.  The living Christ today makes their thrown the human heart and we meet them there in the process of reaching out to those most in need in a Spirit of solidarity and love.  God’s reign becomes revealed for us in the process of reaching outside ourselves and journeying beyond what’s familiar to us.  We may not see the reign of God that Jesus spoke of manifested in its fullness within our lifetime, but in the process of reaching for it we become builders and recipients of what Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Called, “Beloved Community.”

This past Martin Luther King Day Sunday, Rabbi Andy and Rev. Dale Azevedo expounded a little bit on Dr. King’s Reign of God-inspired concept of “The Beloved Community.”  Rabbi Andy told a wonderful story with the central moral being, “If I have a problem then you have a problem.  If you have a problem then I have a problem.  If anyone has a problem then everyone has a problem because we are all in the same boat!”  This moral echoes Dr. King’s sentiment that, “An injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”  These days, if we look around us, we will see as much injustice as existed in the time of Jesus, and so we are left with the task of continuing the journey to the realm of God and striving to build Beloved Community along the way.   We are called to make our lives a radical response to the knowledge of ourselves as interdependent God-created beings who share in creation together, as one interwoven tapestry of life.  Our society conditions us to live only for ourselves, but the wisdom of God we see in Jesus calls us to see the truth of our interdependence and live for others and in solidarity with those suffering injustice.

One of the ways we practice doing this as a church is by going on mission and service-learning trips.  We discover the presence of God and find ourselves, “building the beloved community,” when, like Jesus, we join, “the people.”  This summer we are going to go to Navajo Nation and be with “The Dine’” which means “the people,” in the Navajo language. Our service-learning trips are one way we respond to the call to join the people and manifest beloved community.  During our time with the Dine’ we will plant “edible landscapes” together, assisting with their efforts of re-establishing food sovereignty on their land.  We were connected to this mission by Dine’ singer, song-writer, and educator Lyla June Johnston who I met at Standing Rock last November.  In a recent letter, Lyla June writes about “her dream,” in homage to Dr. King’s dream, and her vision of Beloved Community as she understands it.  She writes, “We have a lot of healing to do.  And by ‘we” I do not mean Indigenous Peoples alone, but the fabric of humanity as a whole.  I believe this healing is an interdependent process and progress anywhere creates opportunities for progress everywhere.  As Dr. King believed, ‘Either we go up together, or we go down together.’  I see a place where Native people can weep, where they can stand, where they can feel safe, as they mend a broken connection to ancestral knowledge and practice, a broken connection to homeland.  And in this mending I see mending sparked for Asian, African and European Diasporas as well.  In this great return to the earth and to ourselves, I see cultural dominos falling through time.  In the end, I see the world celebrate the fact that the mission to eradicate earth-based, egalitarian culture from the face of the earth failed.”  Lyla’s dream suggests the same moral as Andy’s story.  “If one person or group has a problem then we all have a problem because we are all in the same boat.”  The reality of our all being in the same boat calls us to understand ourselves as being part of the whole of humanity and the whole fabric of creation.

As Christians we understand ourselves as being together, the body of Christ in the world.  That’s how we describe the interdependence.  Many people might see the assault on the environment and our only planet by giant industries that we are currently witnessing and think “it’s not my problem.”  Perhaps others might simply feel powerless to affect change. Many might see the suffering and trauma imposed on Indigenous people as a result of centuries of racism and colonization and say, “it’s not my problem.”  As the body of Christ we are asked to be less ordinary and do something different.  We are asked to allow ourselves to allow our hearts to ache at the site of nature and land and water being destroyed.  As the body of Christ we are asked to allow ourselves to feel our bodies ache at the site of people being subject to violence and oppression.  And so as the body of Christ we journey outside ourselves to stand with “the people,” and be in the wilderness, in acknowledgement of our oneness, in acknowledgement of our interdependence, and in recognition that healing is a collective experience and responsibility.  This is why we are journeying to Navajo Country this summer.  This is one way this year we are trying to build the Beloved Community where “poverty, hunger, and homelessness are not tolerated and where bigotry is replaced by an all-inclusive spirit.”  You can support our efforts by coming to our community dinner on Feb. 11th.  All proceeds will support the mission trip!  There will also be a giving opportunity during Lent.  Stay tuned!  It’s an honor to be in the same boat together… on this journey together.

In Christ,

Brendan