Yesterday, I attended an interfaith breakfast held at the First Unitarian Universalist Congregation here in Brooklyn. Antonia, whom many of you know as the director of the Healing Center, introduced us to the powerful force of the spirit and grounded us on how love transforms the culture of violence that surrounds us all.
It is indeed hopeful to witness our human capacity for resistance to and resilience against the persistent, violent and dehumanizing forces that seem to prevail. The gospel speaks of and demands the transformation of our hearts and spirits so that we can make room for our neighbor. It is a spiritual law that by acknowledging the other, our own humanity is uplifted and protected. It is a fundamental principle in our Christian spirituality to embrace all humanity. Thus, any minimizing or distorting of that humanity, either personal or institutional, is an offense against our divine source.
In that spirit let us embrace and celebrate our diversity.
Rev. Juan Carlos Ruiz
In the little town in Mexico where I grew up, there was this sign above the threshold of the main door of the church, written on big, huge red letters: ¨Si no encuentras a Dios aqui afuera, va a ser muy dificil, casi imposible encontrarle aqui adentro¨ (which translates to: ¨if you cannot find God out here, it will be difficult, impossible, to find God inside this church¨). Those words flash before me every time I think of and hear the question voiced by many of our members and friends as we engage in the different ministries of The Church of Good Shepherd. That question is: How do we grow as a church and a community of The Good News from without?
It is my understanding that if we want the larger community of our neighbors to come and offer their gratitude around our table of worship, and commune with our God, we need to be visibly present, relevant, and a resource for those who are most vulnerable in our communities.
This mission entails a commitment to first listen with respect and without the judgement that can dismiss the needs of those within and outside our congregation. It is certainly a commitment that guides us to know how to prioritize our time, our talents and treasure as a congregation. It is my conviction that if we want to minister to the larger community we need to be visibly present outside the walls of our church. How we do that? What are the ministries that we need to develop? What seeds do we need to sow and tend?
Some of the ways we have been of service to our communities are evident. We see how Art on the Corner has been reaching out and drawing in the larger community to Good Shepherd. It has become a beacon that lights our world with song and music and builds our community. How do we assess and reorganized that ministry? How do we discover new ways of being present?
This is our calling as we celebrate our Triune God, whose very being is the mystery of communion, not only within God´s self but more intimately with all of us. Let this mystery blossom into lives of liberation and the nonviolent force of the spirit that moves us in the right direction.
Rev. Juan Carlos Ruiz