One Big Tent
Some readers may be familiar with Richard Rohr, a Roman Catholic priest who is writer and speaker on spirituality. At the recent CONSPIRE conference our church and many others had access to (and still have access to recordings of) he made the point that “most of human history has been spent determining and deciding who doesn’t belong.” He stated that “History confirms that every civilization spends time hating others, mostly unconsciously, but they do.”
Wow! Thinking about it more intensely, that seems accurate. Thinking about the many organizations I have been a part of, and some I am still a part of, there are often criteria that must be met to join and issues and actions that need to be supported as a requirement to ‘belong.’ Lots of time is spent evaluating individuals who want to be a part of a particular organization or group to determine if they ‘qualify’ to ‘belong.’ Quite an interesting and profound observation about human behavior.
Our church family is probably not absolved from doing some of that either. And yet, we have in our midst White Sox, Cubs, Bears, Colts, and Steelers fans; we have IU supporters and Purdue supporters; there are conservatives and liberals; there are a variety people with varying backgrounds; our ages span several decades; there are those with varying opinions on a variety of topics (some more controversial than others), lots of ‘differences’ can be identified. HOWEVER, it seems to me there is also an overriding commitment to fellowship and support for each other…in good times and bad.
Do we spend time trying to decide who doesn’t belong to our church family? Possibly, but I hope not too much. We are a busy and caring church with lots of good work and activity underway as we try to contribute to God’s work in our community and the world.
I like to believe that First Presbyterian Church-Valparaiso has a BIG TENT with room for everyone; and that we can welcome and embrace all who want to be under it. I, for one, do not want to spend time on who should and who should not be under it. It is big enough; and we can be accepting enough for all.
It is my intent to avoid, as best I can, spending time thinking about who doesn’t belong and doing what I can to support the work of this wonderful church. May you be moved to do the same.