A Minute for Mission, shared with my parish in winter 2007/2008, when the parishes of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin, led by its bishop, were leaving the Episcopal Church.
How many of ya’ll know the round [singing] “Love, love, love, love, Christians this is your call…” [raise hand] ?
Do me a favor, let’s sing it just one time through — ya’ll start [point to one side], ya’ll go next [point to the other side], and we’ll go third [point to folks in robes].
[start each group singing, and finish the song]
Isn’t that beautiful? I’d never heard it before with three parts until I tried it a while back when we sang it at the 8:00am service. It was really complex. And really hard to be the third part — especially at the very end when I was supposed to be singing all by myself (I chickened out). But the results were sure worth it.
Singing that round was at the end of a series of disturbing experiences.
It all started with a conversation about politics with my father and stepmother who are visiting from South Carolina — I hope to go back home there when I retire. Anyway, at the
end of that conversation, my stepmother exclaimed, “You’re so politically correct!” and my father quipped, “She didn’t get that from me!” It felt really weird, and I later wondered
if I was going to be a fish out of water when I move back to South Carolina. I talked to a cousin about it, and concluded that what I was experiencing was just a form of that diversity that I value so much: not everyone is going to agree with me about everything. And that will be true no matter where I live.
…I wonder if the folks in San Joaquin Diocese have considered that?
The next experience was a nightmare I had. It was really horrible. There were lots of weird people and wicked people in it, all trying to hurt me. The only way that I could protect myself was to love them. I didn’t want to love them. I was afraid of them. Or uneasy about them. It was exhausting, as I tried loving each one, trying to defend myself from their attacks. I woke up with a despair hangover that lasted for hours. But later on, I figured out why it was so scary — there was no God in my dream.
…How can any of us deal with the dark side of diversity, without God?
But that final experience, singing the round at 8:00, brought me some peace. Diversity can be difficult, even threatening, but with God’s help, it really is beautiful. As we face the challenges ahead in St. John’s and the church at large, I hope we keep this in mind:
[singing] Love thy neighbor as thyself, for God loves all.