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Lenten Reflection: Involvement in the Beloved Community

February 19th, 2016

Who gets left out of the beloved community?

“God bless me and my wife, my son John and his wife, us four, no more. Amen.” It’s funnier if you haven’t heard it sincerely prayed.

A few are more generous to offer space in their circles. Their mantra could be, “Birds of a feather.” Whoever looks like, talks like and thinks like me has a place. There is, however, no room for learning from diversity, no mixing of cultures, no tolerance for divergence, no place for people with disabilities that are different from our own.

Of course, we mustn’t forget the “love the sinner; hate the sin” ilk, who hold themselves in the highest regard. They are too righteous to ignore those who are different from them, so they just patronize, condescend and generally make themselves and everyone else miserable.

What about the “you get what you deserve” crowd? Since your wrong choices put you into this bad situation, you should just get it together and fix yourself. These people can’t be responsible for or responsive to our relapses, our disorders, our failures. “Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps like I did.”

In the beloved community people are valued simply because we are. Whatever category it is into which we fit (or don’t fit) is alright, because in the beloved community there are really no categories, only people. Nearly everyone in their own way feels pleasure or pain. Harsh words and cruel acts, undignified treatment, raised voices and blows are felt more or less equally by human beings, even other animals.

As we reflect and act this season of Lent, may we reflect genuinely and act authentically. May we communicate to those near and those far off that nothing separates them in this beloved community. No judgement comes your way in the beloved community. We understand your perceived failures because we are failed creatures ourselves—failed and frail and fair. Flawed heroes all, we march or roll or drag ourselves to whatever is the next stop for us.

In the beloved community, we are all in this together. The roller coaster that we call life thrills and chills and spills us all in our time. Perhaps we can reflect (while we stock food pantry shelves and tutor children behind in their literary skills) that everything we have is vapor and all we are is subject to change in an instant. It behooves us to be present for someone else today with the hope that someone will be there for us when we need them.

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