This message was shared at our Sunday Gathering at 5:15 p.m. on May 28th.
Thank you for being here tonight. It is obviously wildly counter cultural to gather in this way as a church here in the Bay Area, especially on the Sunday night of a three-day weekend. But I find that I need this radically inclusive, activist church in my life now more than I ever have.
Because in this political climate, especially, I find a need a place to show up every week and remember that what we are seeing is not normal and that we must not let ourselves become numb. If Jesus’ teachings of radical love are taken to heart they ask us to be intentional about what we participate in, they offer us an ethic for daily life. How does my individual choice build Beloved Community?
This is different than going with the flow of a culture that elevates material wealth, professional success, overworking and continued militarization as healthy and normal. In that paradigm the question is more about how my individual choice serves my own best interest, rather than what’s good for the whole.
I have been thinking about this a lot because as things change so quickly, our individual choices have a huge impact on the lives of others. Maybe others of you have used the navigation app Waze. If you are unfamiliar with it, it uses real time date to route individual cars around trafficked areas. This means it connects drivers to lesser known side streets and alternative routes.
In many places this simple, free app has wreaked havoc as the overall flow of traffic for what is best in communities has been forced to take a back seat to the driving needs of individuals. “Noe Veloso, Fremont’s principal transportation engineer, said drivers stuck in gridlock on northbound Interstate 680 headed toward the Tri-Valley have been getting off on Mission Boulevard and, at the advice of Waze and Google Maps, cutting through residential streets to bypass the Mission logjam before hopping back onto the freeway.”
The engineers have had to introduce new mechanisms with signs and barriers to keep individuals from cutting through neighborhoods, but without these efforts, the outcomes are not what’s best for the common good, but rather what is best for individuals.
This is also true for the online shopping. Our house it is common for us to order books, clothes for our kids and other things online allowing them to arrive at our doorstep without fitting shopping into our busy lives. But does this personal convenience for us, matter more than having a brick and mortar local bookstore? Or does the fact that it saves time matter more than the dramatic increase in the use of cardboard for all of the boxes?
As I lean toward 40, I feel a heightened need to be more intentional about how my choices impact the world. “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself'” means we are called to be intentional about what we participate in as an ethic for daily life. How does my individual choice build Beloved Community? Is the outcome good for all of us?
It’s clear to me that in this place, in this time this is wildly counterculture, rather what is affirmed is being rich and being young and being healthy and being the man with the most. And into that Jesus says that loving our neighbors isn’t simply about being nice, it is about being intentional about the choices we make and what impact they have on others. Jesus calls us to a higher ethic; one that transcends what is best for us as individuals. It’s about all of us.
And I think more of us need places to remember that, to hear it week after week, to remind us that God has something different in mind than what is unfolding.
Our emerging congregation is at an exciting new crossroads. The Spirit has made a way where it seemed impossible. We have held on, kept going and we are here, ready for a time such as this, a time where our voices, our message, our gathering is needed. This week is the last week in this exact formation. We are following the Spirit into an inspired progressive faith collaboration on Sunday mornings here at 10 starting on Pentecost next Sunday and we will be here for a spiritual dinner party on the last Sunday night of each month.
It all feels infused with the Divine, in ways I struggle to explain and I believe it is an incredible possibility for a vibrant progressive Christian community downtown. Many people need this radically inclusive, activist church in life now more than ever. We need the church that’s about all of us.
May it be so.