Know Better, Do Better

Let us pray: 
The church of Christ in every age, 
Beset by change but spirit led, 
Must change and test its heritage
And keep on rising from the dead. 

I hurt someone in church and brought them to tears. 

 Many years ago, I was facilitating a group and didn’t know about the new vocabulary around pronouns.    I won’t make assumptions-- maybe you don’t know either.   Younger generations are changing the very way we use language and our understanding of gender.    Rather than using she or he pronouns, some people don’t readily identify on the binary of male or female.  Instead of using she or he, some people use they/them pronouns.   I didn’t know this, and I mistakenly assumed I was in a room with all women.  I was wrong.   

I brought them to tears.  I hurt them.  

“This is why church is so hard,” this young person told me.  “I am frustrated with trying to explain who I am when all I want to do is pray.   The church hurts people like me because you don’t know what’s going on in the wider world outside your doors.”   Ouch.  

The wind blows where it will.  Holy Spirit is a like dandelion seedpod--it goes everywhere!   The sacred is all and all.  Salvations in Christ belongs to all.  All are save in Christ and through Christ.  

Forget everything you know about this highly abused and weaponized gospel passage. If, however, that is not possible because it has been used against you, then at least try to set that aside beloved.   

For God so loved the cosmos that God- They sent their precious child to earth so that transformation is possible for all.  All means ALL.    Salvation in Christ is a universal transformation of all that is and all that shall be.  

This wilderness walk of Lent is about the deep need for the light and love of Holy Spirit to transform our very souls so that we come into whole relationship with ourselves, our neighbors, and all of creation.    We come into whole relationship with the source of life, the Creator, that we blithely call God. 

The light of the world is growing before our very eyes.  Do we notice it? 

And my God how we need the lengthening light to see ourselves clearly for we are wrong minded people.  There’s a reason we are called sheep.   We are slow to learn and change.  

Slow to give up on colonialism and racist ideology.  Slow to move beyond our limitations.  Slow to embrace the other.    In Hebrew, the very word Holy means OTHER.   We are called to holiness—to love the other, the different.  

The light of the world is growing before our very eyes.  Do we notice it? 

We desire to be a church that embraces the other, a church that is inclusive and yet, we cannot guarantee that sin ignorance or bias won’t show up in us.  We all have a limited lens to see the other. 

We can’t guarantee safety in our church because we live steeped in sin—implicit bias, caught up in our own lens and limitations, unaware of what we don’t know. What hope is there? 

The light of the world is growing before our very eyes.  Do we notice it? 

Maya Angelou wrote, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”
Beloved that is the most concise definition there is of penitence.   I know better now.  I will do better now. 
Christ followers are agents of transformation.   We are called to be like Nicodemus and to love the questions—to be vulnerable enough to look foolish and ask questions that we should already know the answers to.  We may not, because of our sinfulness be able to curate safe space but we can create a space where we promise to do better when we know better.   Rather than being safe, we can be brave.  
We can curate on our wilderness walk a place that is brave, a space that strives to do better than our implicit bias, a space where when we step on each other’s metaphorical toes, we can say ouch, that hurt.  And, I’m sorry.  
That’s a vulnerable place, that’s a courageous place.  That’s the work of the Lenten journey—to restore right relationship by looking at ourselves and how we are in relationship—to learn what we don’t know. 
The light of the world is growing before our very eyes.  Do we notice it? 

I wonder—can this space be one where when we make a mistake or say the wrong thing or make a wrong assumption or use the wrong language, we can learn, we can repent, we can promise to do better?  That sounds like a healthy boundary for us to practice.   And the thing is, church is all about having a place to practice being human and opening up the Kingdom of God for all.  All means all. The sacred  is everywhere and redemption is always a possibility.   
I love that line in Psalm 16 —my boundaries enclose a pleasant land.  We can make space for good boundaries at Ascension.   Boundaries that invite us to be accountable to each other, to do better and practice learning about the dignity of the holy one who is wholly different from us.  
The light of the world is growing before our very eyes.  Do we notice it? 

Author Brene Brown writes, the most generous people are the ones who have good boundaries.   Boundaries are all about saying this is where I begin and where I end. Boundaries help us create something NEW.    
Nicodemus in the middle of the night approaches Jesus.  Nic asks the teacher questions and Jesus sounds a bit frustrated like the young person I brought to tears.   Sometimes beloved, we who are free to question, ask the wrong questions and in our ignorance, hurt others. 
The wind blows where it will.  The Holy Spirit lands and rests everywhere.   The sacred is in all.  
We are invited to see and know this—to allow the light of Lent into us so we can know better and do better-- to see the sacred in all, salvation in Christ is universal—its sets the cosmos free.  Redemption is possible when we choose to do better. 
The light of the world is growing before our very eyes.  Do we notice it?