Lisa Allgood, Executive Presbyter
Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. – Ephesians 2:19-20
One of the most iconic bridges in the world is the Chain Bridge that runs over the Danube connecting Buda and Pest. Buda (the flat side of the river you see at right) and Pest (the hilly side you can’t see) were governed by different warring tribes – Mongols on one side, Ottomans on the other. The bridge was built in 1849, and it wasn’t until 1873 that the two sides became the single city we know today as Budapest.
You could say the bridge had something to do with that.
Last week we ended with “What are we told to do…?” My answer is “bridge”. Bridge to the community Jesus taught us about.
I have heard many conversations over the past several weeks about the margins. Where individuals draw the line at who is acceptable to their congregation, and apparently, by extension, into the Kingdom. And it hurts every time I hear it – any judgement, any exclusion of any kind, on every end of every continuum.
The search for community is a deeply human search and at the same time the ideal God has set before us. Jesus included in His community the outcasts, those set aside by the elite – those who were sure they had all the answers, the only answers: the religious elite, the ruling elite, the elite of the occupiers.
The only requirement for entry into the community Jesus was creating was the offering of repentance and the bridge of faith in Him and His teachings. He did not open a door where any of us had the right to decide that on His behalf.
I know that, for me, when I open myself to the kind of community that Jesus preached – love your neighbor (all of them) as yourself – community reveals itself in the most unexpected places and times.
Henri Nouwen said: “True community is first of all a quality of the heart, a quality that touches all those whom you meet in your life, not only your own family, but also the people you work and play with. The source of all community, however, is your most intimate relationship with the Lord because the deeper you enter into communion with Him, the more clearly you will find that all those whom you love are hidden in His heart.”
Friends, as a community of believers who have professed faith that Jesus is Lord, we must put aside our belief that we know better than the Word, the Logos of Jesus, and open ourselves and our churches to the people who need to hear that Word. Be the Bridge that builds the Kingdom!