May 11–Belonging: A Relational Affair

The Rev. Grace Imathiu, a United Methodist minister, called on her community to embrace now as the time to accept the LGBTQ communities in the full embrace of the Church.  United Methodists are gathering in their General Conference currently, and this issue is at the top of the list of matters for the historic Church.  I was moved by her approach to scripture.  She urged:  when you take up a reading, ask yourself who this reading helps and who it hurts.  If the answer is that it helps you and hurts others, read it again.  She brings a prophetic voice to her community and to us all as we seek to be better human beings and create beloved communities in our religious houses of worship. Most religious communities want to be welcoming, want to give people a sense of belonging, want to be loving and compassionate, and yet, not all are. Martin Luther King, Jr. rightly called Sunday morning the most divided hour in the American experience.  Our way of reading scripture, doctrines and our sets of values often favor us in the way we read them and hurt those left outside our doors.

In an ancient Persian poem of Hafiz, the Sufi mystic, he tells of a man who came to him to share with him certain visions that he had had.  He wanted to know if the visions were true.  Rather than answer, Hafiz asked about the man’s goats, his wives, his children, his rose bushes, his children, his parents, and whether he fed the birds in the winter.  The man answered all of the questions but grew exasperated with Hafiz.  But what about my visions?  Are they true?  To which Hafiz replied:

Then I said,

“You asked me if I thought your visions were true,

I would say that they were if they make you become

More human,
More kind to every creature and plant

That you know.”

Today, be more kind.  Be a mystic and be more kind.  Be prophetic and be more kind.  Be a revolutionary and be more kind.

Be radical.  Be more kind.

Bob Patrick

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