Confession 380: Embracing the “Other”

Each of you is now a new person. You are becoming more and more like your Creator, and you will understand him better.  It doesn’t matter if you are a Greek or a Jew, or if you are circumcised or not. You may even be a barbarian or a Scythian, and you may be a slave or a free person. Yet Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us. Colossians 3:10-11 (CEV)

My husband and I just returned from a week in London.  It was our first time in London, and I have to say londonit is an absolutely fabulous city.  There is a perfect balance between the historic and contemporary within the city.  You can walk along the Thames and see a 3,000 year old stone obelisk juxtaposed with a glass-covered tower reaching into the sky.
The diversity of the architecture is reflected in the diversity of the people.  Walk down any city street and you will hear several different languages spoken and encounter a plethora of different English-speaking dialects.  Women shrouded in burkhas walked side by side with women in sundresses.  Men in business suits mingled with men wearing African tribal shirts and pants.

In a society that is becoming increasingly self-focused and xenophobic, this mingling of “others” was refreshing.  London reminded me that though we are many, we are one; though we are different, we are same.

westminster-abbeyThis was driven home to me in a very profound way during the communion service at Westminster Abbey.  Sitting in chairs under the great domed ceiling where worshipers have been sharing the sacraments for over one thousand years, I realized how wonderfully diverse the body of Christ truly is.  To my left was a family from France.  To my right, a family from Great Britain.  In front of me were two older women from Italy.  And behind me, a man from the Netherlands.  Spread out across the chapel were others from around the world.  And yet, we were all there to participate in the Great Thanksgiving.  We were all there to praise, worship and honor God.

How absurd it is to think that because of our nationality, race, socio-economic status or gender we are the be all and end all of humanity.  How arrogant it is to think that how we live and the traditions we hold dear are the only ones that matter.  How dangerous it is to think that we should fear and shun the “other”.

The truth is, we are all the “other”.  And, in the eyes of God who created all people of all races and who is the supreme authority over all people and all nations, we are all his beloved children.  As we draw closer to the one who created us, those differences between people become less important.  We see the oneness of all humanity.

So, as Paul writes in Colossians 3:8-9, we must “quit being angry, hateful, and evil. [We] must no longer say insulting or cruel things about others. And stop lying to each other. [We] have given up [our] old way of life with its habits.”

This week, I would challenge you to think about the habits you have developed in regard sustaining and maintaining your own way of life.  Consider ways in which you can give up some of these habits in order to embrace those who are different from you, and to see the love of God in the face of another.

Blessings and Peace,