Reflection & Prayer for This Week
The primary, fundamental belief of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam is this:
Human beings are made in the image of God.
Because human beings are made in the image of God, each and every human life is sacred.
So sacred that, in all three of these Abrahamic faith traditions, we are called to do whatever we can -- even to the point of breaking a law, if we must -- to protect and save a human life whenever another human being is at risk.
When we believe this, none of us is expendable.
When we believe this,
Black lives matter.
When we believe this,
we are called to do whatever we can
to protect each other from COVID-19.
We do not come to this easily or willingly. As Richard Rohr reminds us in
the book we are reading and discussing on Sunday mornings), during the first half of life we are focused on our ego's desires. In other words, like children, we are self-focused. We want what we want. And we want it now.
All 3 faith traditions teach that we have to learn to care for others as much as we care for ourselves. All 3 traditions recognize this is not easy for us. That means we have to learn limits. So we are given "mitzvot" (we call these "commandments"). Although mitzvot/
commandments may seem to restrict our actions, they actually teach us and enable us to get out of our selves -- out of our egos -- so we can grow as fully as possible into the image of God each one of us is. T
hey teach us and enable us to care for others as God cares for each and every one of us
We learn to love God.
We learn not to lie or steal or kill or covet what is not ours.
We learn to love our neighbors as much as we love ourselves.
We learn to love each other.
We learn to love like God loves.
If we learn well, and grow well in faith, by the time we reach the second half of life we will have internalized a sense of moral responsibility for each other. It becomes integrated into the fabric of our being; it's no longer externally imposed. We are able to set aside our small egos and wants for the well-being of all of God's children (that's everyone). We are willing to sacrifice our personal preferences and privilege, and our ease and comfort, in order to protect the lives of others.
It's no surprise that, in all
3 Abrahamic faith traditions,
a measure of our ethical, moral, and spiritual growth is our willingness to step aside from our self-interested agendas to care for the most vulnerable: children, elders, persons of color. A measure of our maturity is how well we put those who are "least among us" first.
When we can sacrifice our egos in this way, it is a clear sign that we have begun living "second half of life" spirituality in the world. To live into incarnation we must truly believe and understand that others are precious because they, too, are made in the image of God. As Jesus reminds us, it's "simple": How we are with others is how we are with God.
Right now, we are living in a time that calls for
"second half of life" spirituality and
sacrifice. Especially the sacrifice of our ego's privilege. Today, our choices are, quite literally, matters of life and death.
Black lives matter.
Those of us who are "white" are called to repent -- to change our deadly ways and put our privilege and our prejudice "in check." We are called to honor and cherish our African-American brothers and sisters. We are called to step back and get out of the way so they may step up and lead the way.
No one's life is expendable.
are called to repent -- to change our ways and "check' our privilege. We may "want" to gather in person; we may "want" to do that now. But it is, literally, deadly to gather. We may not "like" wearing masks; we may find them "uncomfortable." Yet we risk other's lives when we refuse to wear masks. We are publicly proclaiming that others' lives -- the lives of children, elders, persons of color -- do not matter. Who are we willing to endanger and, quite possibly, lose to death? As mature Christians, we are called to honor and cherish others. We are called to limit ourselves, and suffer discomfort, in order to protect and preserve each other's lives.
In his first letter to the people at Corinth, the apostle Paul reminds us that mature Christians are those who give up the child's ego-driven ways -- the child's "Me!" and "Mine!" and "I want!" Paul writes: "When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways" (1 Cor. 13:11).
Gracious God, love us into change.
Love us, so we can learn love ourselves.
Help us love ourselves, so we can learn to love others.
Help us love others, so we can learn to love You.
Gracious God, love us into change
so we may be like You.