Monday, January 19, 2009

A House Divided

If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. Mark 3:24-25

I have been in North Dakota on the Standing Rock Reservation for the past few days. This meeting, with many Native clergy and lay leaders from across our church, is always inspiring, encouraging and exhausting. There is much to work on together and many stories to share. There are always new people and many old friends, all engaged in Native ministries. All caring for their people and their communities. Many of us have shared experiences of communities divided and times when nothing good happened. And others groups have told of the strength to get beyond the trouble through prayer and faith, and a commitment to be in relationship with, and forgive the human failings of others. Incredibly hard work that, taking people as they are and staying in relationship when nerves are frayed and community seems on the breaking point.
In this place there has been an abundance of laughter, tears and freely offered support, encouragement and welcome. In these hard economic times, the communities that are thriving seem to be those who work together, care for each other and share a common understanding of their call and ministry. Compassion is always in their every action.

Jesus talked to his disciples and the others who followed him about the need for unity, a house united. Not a perfect single room dwelling with no complexity and no diversity but rather an expansive understanding of the necessity of every one's gifts. They had to be able to put others first, compassion and care at the center, and reach out in welcome and forgiveness at all times. His words caution us to differ within the community but to avoid destructive behavior and divisive action. He calls us to follow him by putting the needs of the whole above the needs of one.

Today, as we experience this historic inauguration, I pray that I can be a member of an undivided house and that everything I do will be for the building up of others. Welcome, compassion and service. I pray that our nation might experience together a new willingness to serve for the common good. I pray that we can lift each other up together and not make our opinions and needs take precedence over the whole community. May we follow where Christ leads us today, with open, loving hearts and arms outstretched to our entire house and our entire community across the world.

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