Hello blogosphere! I am a Presbyterian pastor serving Immanuel Presbyterian Church in McLean, Virginia. Immanuel, for those unschooled in the ancient Hebrew language or unfamiliar with Matthew 1:18-25 , is a compound word that means “God-with-us.”
One of the ways we incorporate that idea into the life of our congregation is through a regular call to “embody God’s love”. (Interesting. It just occurs to me that the word incorporate is another word for embody… Hmm.). But what does embodying God’s love look like? What might it cost us?
“There are names for what binds us,” the poet Jane Hirshfield writes here. Strong forces, weak forces… Hirshfield goes on to describe how flesh grows back across a wound to form a scar; how when a scar forms on a horse—darker and raised—it is known as proud flesh; and how when two people have loved each other it is like a scar between their bodies…which makes of them a single fabric that nothing can tear or mend.
It is what binds us together that concerns me as a pastor, and more than that, as a human being. My deepest theological conviction, deeper than any creedal formulation or statement of Christian orthodoxy, is that God is love and that God’s love longs to be embodied in human flesh. I talk about embodying God’s love so often in the pulpit that I must sound like a broken record to some members of my congregation. But I do this because I truly believe mercy, understanding, compassion, and kindness—all in their own way expressions of love—are the key to the healing of individuals, society, and the larger world. Judging by my Facebook newsfeed; the political speech I hear and sometimes speak in my corner of the world (I am one of those people who live “Inside the Beltway”); and the news shows I watch on TV; mercy, understanding, compassion, and kindness are in fairly short supply.
So today, I am committing to begin a regular blog focused on what binds us together—not as members of a particular religion, denomination or sect, but as members of the larger human community—a community that doesn’t always see eye to eye, but is nonetheless inexorably connected in a common destiny. Nevertheless, I do write from the perspective of a Christian pastor, a follower of the One whose love was embodied in Jesus of Nazareth, who himself was scarred. It is my hope that in the vulnerability of honest sharing, in relating the scars and triumphs of life in general and my own life in ministry, I will participate with the scarred God I serve in knitting a fabric of love. Martin Luther King, Jr. called that fabric The Beloved Community. And Jesus called it The Kingdom of God.
Striving to embody God’s Love,