Love: Strong enough to hold us
I’m thinking about divisions, polarizing conflict… discord. This week we shared that a church in our presbytery is seeking to leave the denomination. Every week I engage in at least one conversation (every day?) where there are passionately held convictions that are in conflict. We fight (and I do mean fight) over laws and interpretations of laws both ecclesiastical and political (and social as well).
I do not wish to speak to any of those particular conversations. I do wish to think about how we exist as communities in conflict. There is something very ‘Holy Week’ about such a conversation. The community around Jesus in Holy Week is very much in conflict. Jesus becomes the lodestone to radical shifts in meaning. “You have heard it said… but I tell you…” There are various reactions to these shifts… from those in favor but clearly not understanding the shifts fully (like Peter) to those very much against the shifts who require the death of Jesus to end the conflict. In such weeks stability often becomes more important (of ultimate importance?) than wrestling with conversations that create ambiguity.
I like to call this the yellow brick road phenomenon. We wish to have a clear road before us to our destination. Anything that makes that “way” murky is tossed aside. Anything that clarifies it is embraced (sometimes without question). And I can see the allure of this… I feel the allure of this. And yes, I hear words like “the way is narrow” (Matthew 7) and know that there is some truth to clarifying the way we should go. I also hear words like “the son of man has nowhere to lay his head.” (Luke 9) I hear Daniel told to go his way because the words are to remain secret and sealed. (Daniel 12) Some knowledge is just beyond us. In fact it is knowledge of good and evil that the garden says we were not to receive. Much woe comes to the world when we require drawing lines around what is good and what is not.
It is enough for me to travel with people… knowing we shall differ in outlook and truth but also knowing that the love and care that unites us is stronger than all that.
Let us – from whatever conflict we are in, whatever truths we hold – join in that prayer at least. That love is indeed strong enough to hold us.