Growing up, we had one Catholic church in town. We had no choice of community, no priest to follow, no beautiful parish building to choose. St. Anne’s was ours. Named after the mother of Mary, our church was the welcoming grandmother to the whole entire town, no matter who we were or where we came from.
It was not perfect, church never is, but I remember thinking that this was one place where I met people I never saw in any other area of my life. It was a space where I could step out of my varied identities and into the one identity that defines us all at our core: beloved child of God.
One year ago, I watched people press into and over law enforcement in a quest to destroy democracy, many of whom were carrying crosses and crying out the name of Jesus. I was confused.
How had we reached the point where we became so partisan in our belonging that we had forgotten how similar we actually are. We all feel joy and pain and experience beauty and sorrow. We have all felt abandoned and understood. We know that there is one greater good out there for which we are striving, and many of us see the model of that good in Jesus.
How could their view of Jesus differ so drastically from mine, when I am certain some of them would happily sit next to me in the pew.
When I look deeply into scripture, I don’t see a treatise on war or instructions on how to prove my superiority or my right-ness, I see a divine man telling us and showing us that we must love and love and love some more.
I used to think that church was a place to remember we are the same, but now I know more. God created us in diversity for a reason. We are all the same at our core, yes, but we are also vastly different, with ideas to voice and wisdom to share.
The church is a gift because both things are true. We are the same AND we are different, and it is only when we embrace both at the same time in the same people that we allow ourselves the chance to see what God has been trying to show us all along: that his kin-dom is possible only if we see one another as kin.
One year later, I’m still unable to wrap my head around the driving force behind that angry crowd, because despite what they claimed, it certainly was not Jesus.