Controversy was a thread that ran through our time of learning in Philadelphia. It was evident politically and culturally both inside and outside the walls of the church during these times of early America and the early church in America. My classmate, Carissa, offered a sermon on joining together as Christians entitled “Catholic Spirit”. She reflected upon John Wesley’s sermon based on 2 Kings 10:15 and the story of Jehonadab and Jehu reaching out and taking one another’s hand. We are called today to do the same. God wants us to reach out and take one another’s hand, right? Isn’t this what we are called to do as Christians? It is not about our denominations, but we often make it about our denominations by taking sides on social and political issues. Even in our own churches, we often refuse to reach out and take one another’s hand.
I was reminded of this the day we traveled to Lancaster for learning at First United Methodist Church. And, I was struck by the carpet in this church because of the clear signs and drippings of red grape juice stains on the carpet. My professor also noted the kneeling benches and small cup holders on the pews. These signs seemed to be contradictory since most congregations take communion in one form or another rather than having options (I have personally received both and do not find that the meaning is in the delivery method but in the action). From what I understood, some members of the church were insistent on receiving communion at their seats while others chose to receive it through intinction. I saw these drippings as just a small example of a missed chance to reach out and take one another’s hand. Carissa reminded us beautifully that Christ came for each of us and we are called to truly love one another, no matter our differences.
This concept is hard for us as Christians today. We may not all agree all the time. Actually...we often do not agree. But, I do believe we are called to take one another’s hand. What does it mean to you to take a hand of someone you disagree with? Does it mean posting your opinions on Facebook or being willing to enter into an open and honest face-to-face conversation with them about your differences and why you feel the way you do? The earlier is certainly easier, I'll let you decide which is more transformational.
Whitney R. Simpson
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Whitney R. Simpson,
Exploring Peace Ministries, LLC