I confess, I am weary. Sickened, heartbroken, and weary. Weary of the back and forth. Weary of the finger pointing. Weary of the victory laps and the detached rhetoric that abstracts and glazes over personalities, and passions, and faces, and names. I’m weary of the platitudes and the condolences that ring hollow, seemingly unattached to lived compassion and transformation. I’m weary of 140 characters or less. I long for more than hashtags, yet I find myself still looking to them for comfort; desperately seeking in the morass of social media, a light that will fill my dark, lonely void with hope.
And then I find myself reading familiar stories again. Stories of a Jesus who feels anger, and grief, and compassion, as he looks into the faces of real people, and identifies with their pain. A Jesus who is moved by their tragedies. A Jesus who is moved by their longing. A Jesus who is grieved and wearied, like me, every time he sees someone around him pick up a stone in anger, instead of extend a hand in kindness. And as I read these stories, they become the balm my weary soul aches for.
There’s a lot of talk in our public conversation right now about love overcoming hate. And this is right. This is true. But what does it mean? How do we love our LGBTQ friends and family in real, practical ways? How do we care for them in ways that matter, ways in which they will actually feel cared for? How do we do the same for our Muslim brothers and sisters? How do we love our children in a way that resolves to do better, to make this planet a little safer for each of them? What about the people on the “other side” of every public policy debate that these kinds of events reignite? How do we move beyond soundbites and hashtags to a lived experience of love of neighbor? Yes, every neighbor. No qualifiers. No asterisks. No extension of kindness with one hand, while holding a stone in the other.
I don’t have the answers in myself for all of these questions. Too often I find in myself the propensity to oversimplify, to mistrust the other, to be tempted to repay evil with evil. But I’m trying to live my life following someone different. And I’m a part of a community that’s trying to follow someone different. This person didn’t just tweet about love; he lived it in every way.
So in the weeks to come, at Haven we’re going to take the time together to look afresh at this Jesus. And as we have always done, we welcome all to join us. As we say each week together in our service’s opening prayer, “In this community there is equal space for every race, every ethnicity, and every orientation. There is room here for rich and poor, left and right, belief and doubt.”
We may be a motley little crew, but we are united by a common longing, and in the weeks to come we will turn together to this person who seemed to understand himself as love incarnate, and ask him to show us how to actually Live the Love so many of us hunger for. We’ll look together at the practical ways this Jesus went beyond words and actually demonstrated love. We’ll try to pattern our journeys after his. We’ll open our weary hearts and souls to receive his breath of life and his invitation to hope. And as we do, I pray we’ll find some real light in our midst.
"Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that." - Martin Luther King, Jr., Strength to Love
"This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you." - Jesus (John 15:12)