Sitting at the table of bread and justice

I met with several members of my church community on Sunday.  The purpose was to discuss the topic of homosexuality and the views of the church.  We shared lunch, viewed a movie, “For the Bible Tells Me So”, and had discussion.  It was time well spent.

 

I often find myself in leadership roles when it comes to advocating on behalf of an important issue.  There is not a part of me that would want it any other way, but I have to say, it is tiring.  Sure, at times it is tiring because of the multitude of tasks that I need to complete in order to schedule an event, or gather a group of people.  But the tired I am speaking of here is being emotionally, soulfully tired. 

 

When I talk about or advocate on behalf of someone, I put my full heart and soul into it.  Actually, my heart and soul is pretty fully in just about everything that I do.  So, the passion, energy and drive is there to inform, educate, listen actively, and engage in discussion.  But, once the table is cleared, and the group is gone, I am totally spent.  I am tired. 

 

Fighting for justice is really a fight.  Whether we envision it as picking up our arms and going into battle, or in gathering peacefully with hands clasped, it requires being prepared and bringing forth all of our resources.  When speaking about justice issues, there are often many sides or opinions about what is fair, what is not.  There is conflict and disagreement and dissent at times.  I used to shirk away from conflict, due to not having the confidence, or the self-worth, to think that I could handle it.  I know better than that now, in a big way.

 

I invite conflict, not so much in the form of anger or opposition, but in terms of disagreement.  I enjoy dialoguing and helping to bring understanding where there is none.  I l0ok forward to helping others, and myself, to understand how unfairly some groups of people are treated.  And, it doesn’t matter if I am a member of the group or not.  Justice is justice, and injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

 

Although in my church is where I see the vision of the bread brought to life the most often, bread to me is a symbol of unity and likeness among us humans.  You see, I believe that most of us mere humans want the same thing:  to connect with one another, to love and be loved, to do good and to have good done for and to you.  We are more similar to one another than we are different. 

 

breads

 

Of course, issues of justice don’t always get sorted out in that way; often they seek how we are different we are rather than how we are the same.  That is why when I think about issues that surround diversity, or inequality, I always think of the word justice.  Because it is a word that many of us can understand, and would be hardpressed to say that we don’t agree with. 

 

So, my goal as a human being is to get as many of us around the table of bread and justice as we can, to share a meal and share a vision.  To bring friends, family and community members and sit together and solve the problems of the world.

 

And, don’t worry.  It’s a big table.  There is room for all.

 

justice

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17 thoughts on “Sitting at the table of bread and justice

  1. When I was an undergraduate, I used to attend the Anglican chaplaincy meetings (for worship and fellowship) and one of the activities I most strongly recall was a game that could easily be entitled What the Bible tells us to do. We were divided into ten teams and each team was given a Bible verse and a scenario to deal with according to that verse. When we all came back together, it became apparent we had all been given the same scenario but all had different verses. The results varied from genocide, massacre, theft, rape to welcome, mercy and reconciliation. It showed me something that has stayed with me: you can make the Bible say ANYTHING you want it to if you know the scriptures well enough. For me, Jesus’ commands to love one another are the only commands that have weight. A sacred book is still just a book; love is engraved on the human heart.

  2. I think you are definitely right when you say we are so much more similar than we are different. I think we tend to be divisive in our arguments, and instead of bringing wisdom to a situation, the wall between two sides gets taller and wider. I hope your church meeting brought about a lot of understanding.

  3. elizabeth: You are so right. Love, love, love…….

    Leah: It is so much easier to notice how we are different for people I think. We seek similarity and understanding, but what we notice is difference, and for some reason, it then enables this defensive stance within us, like we feel the need to justify who it is we are. Justice simply strives for doing the good, human thing, not to make out each other to be right or wrong, good or bad. Just to do good by ourselves and others……

  4. Well, polls show that there is an age divide on this issue so, with enough time, it will hopefully be resolved. (Only 21% of people older than 50 years old support same-sex marriage!)

  5. That does not surprise me. And, would explain my trepidation and anticipation of hard work that I will have with my congregation; the majority of them are over 50. We are definitely in the minority in terms of age as well!

  6. I look forward to sitting at the table and breaking bread with you over issues that separate us and find ways to help raise our consciousness and learn to live from spirit rather than ego.
    Being tired at the end of the day is a good feeling when you know that you have exhausted your energy in the giving of your authentic self which is love.

  7. Hi Vanessa!

    Thank you SO much for caring, for your kind comments on my blog. Paying you a thank you return visit, although the church discussion is hard for me to follow, since I have never been religious and here in Holland, I think those who look at their practice quite differently from what I read in yours… although really, I do not know.

    I am well, but as wishes go – be careful what you wish for… am working hard not to spread myself too thin, these days, for all that’s coming true for me that I have so wanted.

    Writing, blogging, well… “I’ll sleep when I’m dead”, is the phrase that comes to mind. Not that writing = sleeping, unless you want to quote “to sleep, perchance to dream”…

    Hope you are well, too! I think a lot of you these days as my current living I make doing something resembling what you do…

    I work as an employment coach for those receiving social benefits.

    A wonderful job, wonderful colleagues, but a bit challenging on the boundaries side. It is hard to know what kind of help is asked from me, what is just the right thing to do and say to maximize effect and result, and to give just that, not more.

    Not to mention all the opportunities to learn about teamwork… have discovered this work: http://www.sociaalpanorama.nl by Lucas Derks and well… I AM IN AWE (a Dutch trainer/writer, there’s some English articles and videos there too, I guess).

    So, yes, lots to write about, but when… time will tell.

    Leaving you and all yours with a BIG hug,

    Tink

  8. I am grinning from ear to ear, here Tink…..

    I am so glad to have heard from you; glad that you are doing what you like. Yes, boundaries are so tough to manage, at least always were for me. Now, it is easier, but I have been in it for so many years it took quite a while. When you are dealing with human emotions, the human spirit, it is hard to put boundaries on our caring. Hard to contain our caring into a job, although it is. I had to let go of guilt and realize that if it were limitless, without boundaries, there would be no one left to do the work because we would all be burned out……

    Yes, church issues are definitely culturally based. But, it is all good. I know that change will come; already, in the last three months, three states in the US have passed legislation to allow gay couples to marry. The churches I believe will be much slower, but I never lose hope.

    Sending you a big hug back! mwah

  9. (i am thinking out loud here . . . i hope this doesn’t come across negatively . . .)

    i watched “the Bible told me so” on youtube this afternoon. all 90+ minutes of it.

    so educational.

    i have to say – all the gay-bashing by “christians” turns my stomach. when do you ever see people pulling out the verses about ananias and saphira being killed on the spot for lying in the temple about their gift. or achan for hiding the forbidden spoils under his tent. he and his family and all his animals were stoned to death. do people run around holding signs that damn all liars to hell? and that spout off that God hates liars? no, because they can’t. the log in their own eye vs. the splinter in someone else’s. and the fact that God doesn’t hate anyone. not anyone. there are sins God hates. seven of them. Proverbs 6:16-19 There are six things the LORD hates,
    seven that are detestable to him:
    haughty eyes,
    a lying tongue,
    hands that shed innocent blood,

    18 a heart that devises wicked schemes,
    feet that are quick to rush into evil,

    19 a false witness who pours out lies
    and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.
    there are so many issues in our world. so many causes that people can take up the banner for. so many things for fundamental christians to fight.

    as for me. i believe that my one job here on earth is to point others to God through Christ by living in a way that will glorify God. this life is not about me. it’s about bringing glory to God. my main concern is whether the people i come in contact with know the saving grace of atonement through Jesus Christ. it is up to the Holy Spirit to work in their hearts.

    really, in the grand scheme of things, does it matter if a liar stops lying? not if he doesn’t know Jesus Christ. does it matter if two unmarried people live together? not if they don’t know Jesus Christ. is it up to a group of “christians” to stop people from being gay? the great commission doesn’t say to go into all the world and stop people from being gay. it says to go into all the world and make disciples of Christ.

    are you o.k. with me – a very fundamentally raised girl – hashing out some of my thoughts here? i have more swirling around in my mind . . .

  10. (i am thinking out loud here . . . i hope this doesn’t come across negatively . . .)

    i watched “the Bible told me so” on youtube this afternoon. all 90+ minutes of it.

    so educational.

    i have to say – all the gay-bashing by “christians” turns my stomach. when do you ever see people pulling out the verses about ananias and saphira being killed on the spot for lying in the temple about their gift. or achan for hiding the forbidden spoils under his tent. he and his family and all his animals were stoned to death. do people run around holding signs that damn all liars to hell? and that spout off that God hates liars? no, because they can’t. the log in their own eye vs. the splinter in someone else’s. and the fact that God doesn’t hate anyone. not anyone. there are sins God hates. seven of them. Proverbs 6:16-19 There are six things the LORD hates,
    seven that are detestable to him:
    haughty eyes,
    a lying tongue,
    hands that shed innocent blood,
    a heart that devises wicked schemes,
    feet that are quick to rush into evil,
    a false witness who pours out lies
    and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.

    there are so many issues in our world. so many causes that people can take up the banner for. so many things for fundamental christians to fight.

    as for me. i believe that my one job here on earth is to point others to God through Christ by living in a way that will glorify God. this life is not about me. it’s about bringing glory to God. my main concern is whether the people i come in contact with know the saving grace of atonement through Jesus Christ. it is up to the Holy Spirit to work in their hearts.

    really, in the grand scheme of things, is it up to a group of “christians” to stop people from being gay? the great commission doesn’t say to go into all the world and stop people from being gay. it says to go into all the world and make disciples of Christ.

    are you o.k. with me – a very fundamentally raised girl – hashing out some of my thoughts here? i have more swirling around in my mind . . .

  11. elizabeth:

    Two things I need to say to you first and foremost:

    I am okay with you doing some thinking/writing/processing here, and if your words ever strike me as derogatory or unkind, I will tell you, but so far that has not been the case.

    I appreciate fully your willingness to know more by watching the documentary. Not every person would do that. I believe that shows at least you are willing to listen to different perspectives, and that is where understanding happens between people.

    Lastly, I want to tell you how much I admire your courage for saying what you truly believe here. I know in my heart of hearts, that I am beloved by God, and I fully believe in the teachings of Jesus. I feel very rooted in that. Where myself and the organized church, and Bible for that matter, sometimes part company, is with the idea that homosexuality is a sin. There is no doubt that I sin, and that I make mistakes, but being gay is not one of my sins. Let me be very specific here: I am talking about my orientation not being a sin. I was born gay, God created me to be gay, and I am beloved as I am. A person in my mind cannot be a sinner by living in the vessel they were born to. But, I also believe that sexual orientation and sexual behavior are two TOTALLY different things, and I refer to two specific circumstances.

    #1: Those that are married, call themselves heterosexual, and have engaged in sexual activity with persons of the same gender; that is a big difference between behavior and orientation.

    2#: Two persons of the same gender, that identify as gay, and have a committed relationship, but cannot be married (like my partner and I). If the law allowed, in our state anyway, and our church were willing, we would have been married long ago, and therefore lived up to the sanctity of intimacy in the context of marriage. However, we aren’t allowed to marry, yet, so in the church’s eyes, we are sinful in that regard. I don’t agree with that, although I understand where that comes from, because she and I live out our lives as fully married people, but we are not allowed to marry. We are FULLY committed, including to our church!

    I don’t agree with any couples, heterosexual or homosexual, stepping out of the marriage or relationship to have sex or be intimate with someone else. That is sinful to me, and we both are very committed to our commitment, if that makes sense.

    My struggles with churches in the past, and some Christians I must say, is that they have perpetrated spiritual damage upon those that are struggling with their orientation, by saying it is a choice, or by rejecting them altogether. Thousands of men and women have killed themselves because they didn’t have any support. That has to stop. Someday, I hope.

    My ongoing work is to dialogue with people about where they are at with this; there is sometimes room for new information for others, and sometimes, we have to agree to disagree. But, you wanting to dialogue helps, helps me to understand you, and hopefully for you to understand me, too.

    Thanks for watching the DVD, and sharing your words here. It means a lot.

    Have a peaceful day.

  12. Van, with all the work that you have been doing..I am sure the justice and rights to your beliefs won’t be much far off…! It will have to come around..as thats what you really want!!!

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