The playbook has always and forever been about power. About getting what is yours. No matter what. No matter the cost. No matter who gets hurt.
The playbook pits us one against the other. A zero sum game Winners and Losers.
The playbook says: Look out for number one. Trust no one. Go it alone.
And into this playbook comes this half-mad, visionary, healer, going on and on about what the kingdom of God looks like. And forever and always hanging out with prostitutes and canaanites and women and tax collectors. Whispering, shouting, the whole time: This is what I’m talking about—the beloved community, the kin-dom of God is full of rejects and outcasts and losers. Now, let’s be clear, rejects and outcasts and losers *with heart* who can see the Beloved in the face of the one right in front of them.
One day, while teaching in the temple, a group of guardians of the law came to Jesus and presented to him a woman caught in the act of adultery. The law says that we must stone her. What do you say? He knelt down and began to write and draw with his finger on the floor.
I like to imagine in that moment that he was writing: Forgive them, abba, they really don’t have the slightest clue what they are doing.
Let the one without sin cast the first stone. Go ahead.
He went back to writing. This time I imagine him writing: What am I supposed to do with these people?
When he looked up all of the accusers were gone. “You’re still here!” “Yes.” “Well, above all love. Go, get yourself together and be at peace. You are loved. God go with you.”
The authorities were always having trouble seeing the Beloved in the face of the ones in front of them. Jesus was always reminding them to look deeper.
God, for your sake, make us all humanists. Seeing the Beloved, seeing You in all your glory and all your pathos, in the outcasts, the rejects, the forgotten, the tortured, the lost, the confused, the mangled, the hated. And let us, in our moment of rejection and in our moment of greatest accomplishment, see You in our own outcastedness, our own rejectedness, our forgottenness, our tortured parts, our lost parts, our confused parts, our mangled parts, our hated parts. Give us courage to hold them up to the light, cupped in our hands, so that in that deep recognition, we see how much these give us compassion and empathy and love, for all of creation. Amen.
When Bonhoeffer was imprisoned, he wrote in a letter ‘only the suffering God can help.’
Archbishop Romero, of El Salvador, was converted to the God of nonviolence upon seeing the grave of a martyred, assassinated priest. From then on, he saw Christ in the eyes of the poor and the homeless children, all around him. He saw them fresh and anew and saw them through the eyes of love. In the naked, the distraught, the imprisoned, the tortured, there was Christ and his second, third, fourth coming, over and over, calling us to a fellowship of love and brotherhood and sisterhood. The beloved community, the kin-dom of God. Right here in our midst, right now in our time. God, for your sake, make us all humanists.