Too much is happening, too much is falling apart everywhere. And it’s not the time for us to hide from one another or from Christ Jesus our Lord. It is a time to be vigilant and come together, for Jesus our Lord beckons us and leads us forth into battle. On one side are those forces within us and without that sow division, discord and isolation. On the other side there are all those forces that nurture attachment, connection and solidarity. And that’s where he wants us to be, that’s where his kingdom is going to happen. It’s a showdown between cynics and optimists, a war between “rippers and weavers,” that runs down the middle of every heart.* With Jesus we need to be weavers, creating a tapestry of loving relatedness and bonds of trust. This is why we’re here in the monastery, this school of the Lord’s service, this school of love - to practice connecting and reconnecting, obeying and deferring to one another out of love.
The Lord of gentleness and compassion is leading us forward in hope; someone who leads by falling down, being spat upon, shoved and tortured. Not to teach us how to be doormats; that’s not what his kingdom is about. It is about refusing to live by fear and rivalry, in an us vs. them kind of world, where there always must be winners and losers. It’s about absorbing hurt because of hope and trust in One who is at our side, Christ Jesus our Master.
God is with us, God among us; God like us in everything but our sinning. We may call him a king if we remember that his sovereignty is realized in his littleness, his nothingness, his emptying out, his self-forgetful love, his sin-bearing. He only wants to be loved; our promise to compassion and mercy one another is our pledge of devotion to him. Life in the kingdom doesn’t tolerate individuals, anybody on the fringes. His mercy always gathers, binds up, heals and connects; it never excludes. That is his truth. God always wants to wash our feet and entice us to go and do likewise. And so, we live and rejoice in the “hard truth and ridiculous grace”(Tauren Wells) that abusers and abused, demagogues and peacemakers, well-heeled, solid citizens and weary refugees and migrants, bigots and oppressors and terrorists along with their victims, are all being invited with us to have a change of heart and come together to the feast in the kingdom.
Photograph of Abbey glass by Brother Daniel. * Insights from an editorial column by David Brooks in The New York Times, October 30, 2018.