We live in a time that freely indulges itself in thinking that being “right” is better than beingin relationship—in families, in politics, and in church. But we delude ourselves when weembrace the notion that true principles exist only at the extremes. We further delude ourselveswhen we imagine that faithful disciples will, by definition, agree with each other.When, as a teenager, I left faith and Christian community for some ten years, I did so out of my perception of the church’s hypocrisy in proclaiming one thing and doing another, and doingit boldly. For me, this was during the disruptions and disagreements on race and civil rights,tensions so profoundly visible to a young person who lived in Montgomery, Alabama,throughout the 1960’s. I left because I thought I was right and others were wrong. The tensionswere real and “works of darkness” were committed countless times in the name of Christianity.But I was wrong to leave the church over them.My return to the church as a young adult in my twenties came about only when, in my ownbrokenness, I realized how broken we
are. I realized how little control I actually have andultimately how utterly dependent I am on the grace, love and mercy of God. I have heard it saidmany times that the only way to grow is to stop doing things that aren’t working. Pretending Iwas in control wasn’t working.St. Paul tells us how dimly we see. He tells us how we will neither see nor know fully untilwe stand face to face with the One who already sees and knows everything about us. And yet,our blindness offers us humility. Our relationship with God in Christ Jesus gives us the grace tolove one another even in the face of the most radical disagreements. “Love your enemies, dogood to those who hate you,” Jesus said.
To love one another as Christ loved us, to be willing even to die for one another,
thedeepest principle of Christian discipleship. It is above all other principles. It is patient and kind.“It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it … rejoices in the truth. Itbears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” There is no need forpatience unless one disagrees. Why resist insisting on one’s own way, as this passage in 1Corinthians 13 continues, unless someone has said there is another way, a way different fromour own way? Why bear all things unless there are things that are heavy to carry? Why endureall things unless there are many hardships? And yet, as disciples of Jesus Christ, love
these things of us. To do this
to put on the armor of light.Over the past several weeks, I’ve spoken to people in both dioceses. More than a few of them on both sides of the issues have spoken of a paradoxical sense of relief that the tensionhas finally been broken and of a sense that something new is emerging. That sense of relief isboth undeniable and understandable in many ways, but we do not yet know what its hiddenand presently unknowable effects will be. In the end, disciples who truly and regularly wash oneanother’s feet, whether in spirit or in fact, will find more enduring and persistent joy in lovewhen it is gained at cost to oneself through servant ministry to one another.