Saturday, August 6, 2011

An alternative vision: including Everyone

I've never been good at drawing.  Actually, it’s kind of comical how bad I am at it.  I draw about as well as an intoxicated hippopotamus with one of those really tiny #2 pencils that don’t have erasers and that are made exclusively for fill-in-the-bubble surveys and putt-putt golf score sheets.  And even then, my drawing displayed next to the Hippo’s would still earn me the label of “impressionist.”  I have this hypothesis that when I was a kid some adult must have taught me how to be bad at drawing as some kind of cruel joke.  I just can’t believe I could learn to be this bad all on my own.  This is precisely why I’m so glad drawing well isn’t a requisite to being part of the VAP community.  I’m not excluded because I can’t draw.  That would be ridiculous.  But the thing is: people have long excluded one another for reasons no less arbitrary.  And the Church is certainly not innocent.

Basic sociology tells us that simply by being a Church-goer we’re more likely to be anti-gay, racist and sexist.  And I guess that makes sense.  When we proof-text the snot out of the Bible we can make it say just about whatever we want.  It’s amazing what poorly contextualized exegesis can do.  But the story, when read as a canonical whole, seems surprisingly clear.  It was always the plan that through Israel the whole world would be blessed – would be brought into the covenant for the explicit purpose of making a “new covenant” including everyone.  It is in this new covenant and the ushering in of the kingdom that all things are being made new.  It is in the abolishment of division that we see God’s people being made into the image of Jesus.  It is by the church living as a community in which barriers of race, class, gender, and so forth are completely irrelevant to community inclusion that we live in an eschatological now.  A new way of being human is established as principalities and powers are informed in no uncertain terms that their time is up.  The walls have been torn down and smashed to pieces.  It is here that we share in the victory of Jesus and experience the kingdom as the people of God.

Of course, nobody ever taught me to draw poorly.  Nobody needed to because I can draw poorly all by myself.  The problem is nobody ever taught me differently.  In the same kind of way, our society (including the Christendom oriented Church), by not teaching us otherwise, teaches us to exclude others.  Division and separation is "just the way things are" and we end up being okay with it.  It will take a new vision, the provision of a different kind of story to subvert and destroy the old.

This new story was provided to a bunch of kids in a trailer park on Thursday for the VAP theme including Everyone. As an all boy group gathered together a girl approached and asked for a seat at the table.  “No,” they said, “This is for boys only.”  The girl misses out.  She is excluded from the community for a reason as arbitrary as not being able to draw well.  But the point of emphasis is that the boys miss out just as much.  They miss out because the girl has something to offer that is just as important and matters just as much as what the boys bring to the table.  Then, by way of continuing the illustration, a new group of people were established around the table.  A diversity of gender, age, skin color and class were represented.  This message is absolutely beautiful!  But it isn’t beautiful for beauty sake – it's beautiful because it's a glimpse of God’s plan for the future that we're invited to make real in our time.  

Jesus is the climax of the story.  He announced that the long awaited kingdom has arrived.  He celebrated it with all who would join him – sinners, prostitutes, tax collectors and the like - welcoming them to table fellowship and telling them their sins are forgiven.  May we do likewise and create this kind of community – embracing values of the kingdom.  May we see commonly accepted boundaries and divisions for what they are, and may we have eyes to see an alternative vision.

The kids in the Mt. Pleasant Mobile Home Village get it.  Do we?

Watch and listen:

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful thoughts, Aaron. Thanks for sharing them with all of us.

    May Your Kingdom come and Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven! Teach us, Lord, to see Your Kingdom for what it truly is.