I joined my husband yesterday for an area clergy meeting. Yes, I am an ordained UCC Minister. It was a bit shocking to walk into the room of a very large, downtown church of a very large city and find only male clergy at the gathering. They even said, "look, he brought a girl". A girl, not a woman. Ick.
But, it was good to be among other clergy who are wrestling with the life, teaching and stories of a first century peasant living in an oppressive empire, and what it means for those of us who are trying to follow in the way of this peasant as we participate in a new oppressive empire.
It was good for me because I was reminded who I think Jesus was, and what his significance was, is and will continue to be. As I said at that meeting, "I think every story is a story about restoration to community." And I do.
Resurrection? Yep, the community of followers did not drift away after his execution. Rather, they banded together again and spread the message of welcoming the outsider.
Healing of the leper? Yep, the man no longer has to proclaim "unclean, unclean" as he navigates his community. Rather, he is told to proclaim that he is clean, approachable, a member.
You name it, I will see it through the eyes of restoration of community.
I've always said that I believe that what I am about is reading our sacred stories as though they are alive, and our lives as sacred stories. I see this sacred story lived out here in my school district. I've begun working as a substitute teacher and aid this year. I am often called to be an aid in some of the cross-category classes. As I work with these students who are in wheel chairs, or hearing impaired, or on the Autism spectrum, or slower learners, I remember the days of my childhood when children who were different were put on a bus and sent to a different school. Taken from their community, their neighborhoods, and sent to learn somewhere else.
Now, these students are in their own communities. They are in the traditional classrooms for different parts of the day, enjoying being chosen as a partner for bowling in PE, playing with their classmates in Home Center in Kindergarten, helping to put the supplies away in music. Just part of the gang, part of the class.
Yep, restoration of community. I'm not sure I see it all that often in the Church. But I sure see it in our public schools. And I am grateful every day that my children and your children get to live it.