"At times it feels that the forces pulling us apart are stronger than the forces binding us together. Argument turns too easily into animosity and disagreement escalates quickly into de-humanization. Too often we judge other groups by their worst examples while judging ourselves by our best intentions. And this has strained our bonds of understanding and common purpose. But Americans have a great advantage, to renew our unity we only have to remember our values. We have never been held together by blood or background, we are bound by things of the spirit: By shared commitments to common ideals. At our best we practice empathy, imagining ourselves in the lives and circumstances of others. This is the bridge across our nations deepest divisions. And it is not merely a matter of tolerance, but of learning from the struggles and stories in our fellows citizens and finding our better selves in the process. At our best we find the image of God in one another."
And from President Barack Obama:
"Can we find the character, as Americans, to open our hearts to each other? Can we see in each other a common humanity and a shared dignity, and recognize how our different experiences have shaped us? And it doesn't make anybody perfectly good or perfectly bad, it just makes us human. I don't know. I confess that sometimes I, too, experience doubt. I've been to too many of these things. I've seen too many families go through this. But then I am reminded of what the Lord tells Ezekiel: I will give you a new heart, the Lord says, and put a new spirit in you. I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. That's what we must pray for, each of us: a new heart. Not a heart of stone, but a heart open to the fears and hopes and challenges of our fellow citizens. That's what we've seen in Dallas these past few days. That's what we must sustain."
I am so very grateful that both of these leaders turned to God as the source of hope and strength. It is an example of how we are a people needing God in times of trial and sadness, but also for humility. As ones who are not strong enough to change our own hearts, we are reliant upon a higher power. Yet we must go through a process in order to open ourselves to this transformation. When we enter into empathic relationships, it provides different perspectives and experiences than what we have had before. We find understanding for the individual and perspective for the whole. We find ourselves seeing the image of God in one another.
This Sunday we will hear the story of Martha and of Mary, two sisters who receive a visit from Jesus. It is said that Mary, the sister who sits at Jesus' feet to listen to his message, is the one who is wiser than Martha, who busies herself with household preparations. Yet we know Jesus is not telling us to sit around and only listen, without action. For the power of wisdom lies not just in speaking, but in actions which reveal the same.
And so, in recognition of wisdom that can lead us from words to greater actions of justice and reconciliation, I share a video with you. It is a testimony to the power of transformed hearts and minds through the wisdom of Jesus Christ.
Please click here to see this glimmer of hope...
Thanks be to the power of God's transformation!