Pastor Kathleen Kelly,
The conclusion of the Gospel in today's Daily Office readings struck me hard: "Then all the disciples deserted him and fled." (Matthew 26:56) Have I done that? Have I deserted Jesus? It's not always easy to recognize him. Would Jesus wear a facial covering today? Some say yes. Others say no.
In the Episcopal Church, we extol the blessing of being a "big tent" that welcomes diversity of thought. People are usually much more comfortable in the company of others with a shared outlook on life. We don't send our thoughts about current events to people we expect will dispute our views. We send them to people we expect will agree with us! So why does the Episcopal Church take pride in making us all uncomfortable?!
Because we have a better chance of unraveling the thorny issues of life if we hear a variety of perspectives. Jesus made the authorities of his time uncomfortable, because he challenged their settled ways of thinking. They preferred comfort to encountering the very voice of God in their midst. We embrace the discomfort of difference so that we don't make the same mistake.
Discomfort doesn't sell well, but here's the truth: when we really, really embody everything I just said, and we are curious to learn what others have to say, we learn stuff. And once that happens, the discomfort is replaced by respect and love. And then, Jesus doesn't feel deserted. Jesus feels welcome, and the sense of his nearness brings joy. Joy is better than comfort.
Disciples flee the scene
, Duccio di Buoninsegna c. 1310