“The love and light within me honors the love and light within you. You are never alone. Namaste.”
Every Thursday morning, these are the words that Nikki says to close our hot yoga class. They’re just the tone we need to conclude a hot and holy hour intended to connect us with body and soul. I have been attending this class almost every week for nearly two years now … and save for our instructor, I don’t know the name of a single other person in the class. Now mind you, I’m not shaking hands each week; rather, I’m usually just trying to survive until the end! However, this reminder of togetherness is particularly poignant in this room full of individuals, bound up only in our shared experience and love for the craft, not in our shared relationship and love for one another.
Those words rang especially true to me this morning in light of the violence of last week and in anticipation of the partisan rancor of the following. (Election Day is November 6 — hope you plan to vote!) I thought of the ways in which we simply cannot or will not see love and light in one another through the darkness of division, hatred, and fear. I called to mind the incessant practice for those who claim Christ to proclaim words of anti-Semitism, xenophobia, nationalism, and racism. I imagined all the family gatherings that will unfold later this month, the ways where even those who gave life to each other will struggle mightily to find common ground amidst difference in their political, economic, and cultural convictions. I sunk into the unimaginable travesty of lives lost in beloved community while worshiping the God of Love and Light. I wept, lamenting what has been, confessing my despair for what is, and searching for hope for what will be.
We talked about this very thing in yesterday’s Bible Study, as we opened Ephesians for its illumination. Last week, we read together the mighty claim of Ephesians 2: “For Christ is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us… So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God.” These two groups the writer references are Jews and non-Jews, those who once were estranged by barriers between them but now brought into holy communion, shared membership, higher citizenry with one another into the realm of God in Christ. Unity between people has already happened because of Christ, we said! So why do we continue to act as if it doesn’t? Why do we remain segmented, alone, unable to see God’s image in each other? What does this reality demand we do?
Several around our table shared that they found Monday night’s interfaith prayer vigil at Temple Emanuel to be most meaningful, a sacred sharing in the bonds of human love across all the boundaries we manufacture. By their words, it was exactly the sort of solidarity and standing with that Christ calls us to do. I was out of town and unable to attend, so this afternoon, I’ll be heading to Temple Emanuel to bring words of love and a plant that recalls God’s promise of new life. I trust this is only a small step, but perhaps one of many we can take together: steps that illuminate love and life, movements that unbind us from fear so that we may be bound to God and one another, initiative that insists on citizenry first with the saints and the household of God. May it be so — this week and every week!
Together in the work of Love,
Ps – Don’t forget this Sunday is our Capital Campaign Commitment Sunday! Hot breakfast at 8:30, meaningful worship at 10:30. Bring yourselves and your cards, and let’s celebrate what God has done!