Monday, August 8, 2011

Week 7 - Including "E"veryone

I went to Sam's Club a couple weeks ago with a friend to get some more flooring for our basement. When we arrived there were but a handful of people shopping. As we met the greeter she informed us that technically we can't purchase anything until 10 a.m. (and that she shouldn't even really let us in, but it was 9:45), because it was exclusive shopping time for "business plus" members. I couldn't believe the absurdity! Here we were coming to spend money at their store and not only that, but my friend had a membership! It just wasn't the "right membership" for the time of day I guess. It's such a small example of feeling excluded, but it did make me feel kind of bad - like I wasn't good enough to be shopping there at that time.  These kinds of experiences on a grander scale cause people to not reach out, to not attempt relationships, and to feel rejected .  The kingdom of heaven is about inclusion.  May we be about the kingdom of heaven.

This past week at the Village we talked with the kids about the final letter in the C.R.E.A.T.E. acronym. As the title says it stands for including "E"veryone. It sounds so simple and obvious a concept, but excluding others creeps into our daily lives in big ways and small, whether we conciously do it or not. Including everyone is a way to live, not just one aspect of life. Rob introduced the theme for the night by selecting 6 boys to sit around our community table. "What do you notice about this group?" he asked the kids. Jocelyn immediately raised her hand, "They're all boys," she said. Exactly! So the kids role-played a scenario where Jocelyn asked if she could sit down at the table with them and they told her no because she was a girl (even though Daniel's immediate response was ,"yes," until Rob told him he had to say "no." :) Seems juvenile right? Boys vs. girls, but gender inequality still pervades our churches and our societies worldwide, as does racial inequality, economic inequality, etc. The role-play ended with a diverse group sitting around the table: young and old, dark-skinned and fair-skinned, short hair and long hair, boys and girls, and various economic levels. It was a most appealing and most beautiful picture, and the group I wanted most to be a part of.

The projects for the night consisted of reductive monoprints (not as mysterious as it sounds) and simple sketching. For the reductive monoprints the kids each got their own piece of acrylic with yellow ink on it. They used cotton balls and q-tips to wipe off the ink in various shapes and squiggles, and then pressed their paper on top of the ink to make a print. They did this two more times with red and blue ink, but used the same paper. The results were multi-layered prints that were surprising and beautiful. The idea behind this project was that when we collaborate with people who are different than we are and combine our resources, energies, and ideas, we end up with something much more exciting and dynamic than if we only lived and worked in groups of people who are all the same and all think alike. For the second project of the night we divided into groups and went throughout the neighborhood with each group looking for one object to draw. Once the kids agreed upon an object, they sat down around it so that each person could draw if from a different angle. Every person saw the object differently, but the whole picture could only be seen when all of their perspectives were put together. Get the picture? :)

So let us not forget this day what the kingdom of heaven is about: including everyone, especially the excluded. The ones who live on the margins of society, the ones we tend to forget about, the ones we don't think to concern ourselves with until or unless it becomes personal. Let us go to the poor, the aging, the dying, the sick, the disabled, the orphans, the widows, the foreigners, the suffering, and tell them the good news! They haven't been forgotten! The the "kingdom of heaven is at hand" and to them it has been given! Let us examine our lives for the ways we live that exclude others, or maybe just simply don't include others - I take this to heart as much as I'm asking you to. Thanks for reading!


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