Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Stories that Live

“Stop judging by external standards and judge by true standards.” John 7:24

Sunday, the rain was persistent. With the free afternoon we had, several of us took a ride to Cherokee, North Carolina. This is part of the traditional homelands of my people, and it was a damp, rainy day and the fog was persistent. We arrived and took a tour of the museum, my friends learning parts of my history for the first time. In that telling, there are several times when promises were made, first by a king, then by a federal government and the Supreme Court, which kept Cherokees in their homeland. But greed and the need for control always win out and laws were bent to meet the external standards of these days. We were shuttled out of the museum because it was closing and then rode home as the fog lifted and hugged the mountains, the great Smokey Mountains, their beauty overwhelming, green with buds ready to be revealed.

Jesus encounters religious leaders who want to make judgments in order to accept and reject other people. Jesus confronts their notion of judgment, as they have very strict guidelines which helped keep bloodlines and theology pure. And yet Jesus contrasts external standards with true standards, the standards of love. Jesus called them to the standards of the Creator who looked on all of creation and called it good. He invites them to encounter God who acts in love for the benefit of all, the Holy One who offered Jesus for the whole world.

Today, I want to give thanks for my ancestors and for all those who survived and were resilient, carrying forth the stories of the people. I want to remember the people who persisted, despite external judgments and narrow thinking. I want to live this day with the breadth of love that looks beyond narrow assessments and looks with the eyes of love. May we all have the courage to be unbound from shallow external judgments and, leaving judgment aside, look on our world through the heart of God.

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