Thursday, April 5, 2018 I attended a funeral for a woman who was important to me and the Rippey United Methodist congregation I attend. Doris Brown was nearly 90 when she died.
She provided a legacy of family, commitment to children, to neighbors and friends as well as to her church. That is the setting for these thoughts.
One of the songs chosen for congregational singing was In Remembrance of Me, whose focus regards the Eucharist/Holy Communion. The first verse sets the stage:
In rembrance of me, eat this bread. In remembrance of me, drink this wine.
In remembrance of me, pray for the time when God’s own will is done.
These are deep and powerful words to hold our attention. Gifts of God – bread and drink for each of us.
But the second verse speaks of even greater depth – the reason that we remember the bread and drink.
In remembrance of me, heal the sick. In remembrance of me, feed the poor.
In remembrance of me, open the door and let the neighbors in, let them in.
We don’t only eat and drink for our own health, our own safety, or for our own lives. To do so would be stingy, self-serving, or thinking only of us. The focus is always on how we care for the least among us.
I have also been viewing some TED Talks on-line. To view them yourselves, you just need to connect to www.ted.com/talks.
One of the talks was by Christian Picciolini entitled, “My descent into America’s neo-Nazi movement – and how I got out”. Christian speaks eloquently about his neo-Nazi involvement and even more about his getting out. At one point he shared his interaction with another neo-Nazi, an injured soldier who wanted to return to Afghanistan to kill Muslim people. Christian arranged for the two of them to “drop by” a Mosque because a “Christian man” wanted to learn more about Islam. With a window of only 15 minutes – which stretched into over 2 hours – Christian’s friend became closely connected to the Imam to this day.
It seems to me that we in Greene County are quite isolated from people who are really different from ourselves. We may interact in shops, restaurants, and stores with others, but we don’t know their names nor share our own. We leave our grandkid pictures in our pockets or purses. We seldom step out of our way to comfort, offer empathy, or share joyous occasions with others – unless we know them well already.
Perhaps the change need not be as wide as that of Christian Picciolini yet we each need to be reflective and be open to change. Until we do so, we will continue our sense of separation: city / rural, Democrat / Republicans, old / young, gun supporters / anti-gun. I believe we need to become vulnerable, loving, patient, welcoming – ready to “open the door and let your neighbors in, let them in.”
- Dale Hanaman 2018