Who Shall We Be?

A Lenten Meditation

When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take hm by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself.  John 6:15

In a recent sermon, Bishop Curry cited Abraham Lincoln’s closing words of his second inaugural address:

With malice toward none; with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan – to do all which may achieve and cherish a just, and a lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.

Lincoln addressed a country in crisis, in great danger.  A country torn apart by a war within itself, brothers killing brothers, flailing in the bloody chaos of discrimination, violence, and hatred. 

It was a time for decision. Who shall we be?  What kind of people, what kind of country shall we be?  Do we persist in the chaos?  Or do we become the compassionate community Lincoln envisioned?  More than a hundred years later, we still struggle to find answers to these questions.

Two thousand years earlier, Jesus faced the same politics of chaos, lies, and brutality.   And he lived the answers.  The reality was and is that there is no choice.  Chaos is not a choice.  Lincoln knew it.  Jesus knew it.  They knew that the only viable option for individuals and for society was to take the path of compassionate community.  In our scripture today, Jesus took compassion on the multitude who came to see him and to hear what he had to say.  As dinner hour approached, Jesus did what any good host would do.  His company was hungry, and he fed them.  That’s community.

Jesus lived the path of love, unselfish, sacrificial love. He took the way of the cross seeking good in and for others.  And “When he realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself.”  He turned his back on the temptation of earthly power and prestige, and what most certainly would have ended in chaos, in a bloody civil war. 

Instead, he stayed true to his path of sacrifice.  That is the way of love that can heal our hurts, our losses, and our land.  That is the way we become a compassionate community, filled with instruments of God’s peace, agents of God’s love, blessing others along the way, and praying, God of grace and God of glory, Grant us wisdom, and grant us courage for the facing of this hour.  Amen

This meditation is a combined effort, inspired by Bishop Curry’s Lenten sermon and my own thoughts.  Thank you, Bishop

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