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A BRIDGE FOR COMMUNITY

Let’s be honest...explaining to others who we are as a church is not always an easy task.  With a name like “Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)”, you’ve said a mouthful, but you might find people looking at you like you haven’t clarified anything; or worse they may get the wrong impression.  I remember speaking with a woman about my church – upon hearing that we were part of the Christian Church (D.O.C.) she exclaimed, “that sounds like one of those ‘bible-thumping’ churches!  Are you one of those ‘bible-thumping’ churches?”  I explained that yes, we do believe in the Bible, but no, we probably are not the stereotypical ‘bible-thumping’ church that she is thinking of...read more

 

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Entries in Sum Zero (1)

Tuesday
Jan192016

SUM ZERO - Rev. Dr. David Chisham

Last night I attended a dinner gathering that gave me a significant question to ponder.  The gathering was at Beth Shalom Synagogue, and the guests at the meal were Christians, Jews and Muslims—it was billed as a meal for people of Abrahamic faith; Christians, Jews and Muslims all trace their faith sources back to Abraham, who received the promise of God that all families of the earth would be blessed through his line. 

The theme of last night’s gathering was inclusivity—this was an effort to begin a grass roots dialogue between these great religions and how we can encounter one another in a positive way here in Baton Rouge.  There were no great policies debated and we didn’t try to solve any of the world’s problems, which are many and great.  However, there was one question that stuck in my mind; how we can move beyond the “zero sum” scenarios that play out all around the world?

Zero sum is a term used to describe situations where for one person to win, or have success, another has to experience loss.  We bristle at the thought of a tie in a football game—we like to celebrate the winner and dismiss the loser.  In economics, for one to earn a dollar means another’s wealth must lessen by a dollar.  And often times, in our society, we feel that for someone else’s voice to be heard, another voice must be silenced.  Giving someone else a “seat at the table” means that some person gets kicked out of the room.

Whether we’re talking about areas where Christianity or Judaism or Islam are oppressed implicitly or forcefully, these zero sum scenarios play out all over the world.

I began wondering if there was another way to begin thinking past this—are there alternative scenarios?  At that meeting Rev. Robin McCullough-Bade spoke briefly about Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  This was a challenge for Rev. King as well.  As a Baptist Christian, he had been told that talking to anyone else from any other religion meant that he would lessen his faith.  At some moment, I’m not sure when, he finally saw that that was not the case at all.  Rev. King realized that speaking with Ghandi did not make him any less of a Christian.  Rather than thinking that he was losing territory in these encounters, he saw God broadening his horizons.

It reminds me of the story of Jesus and the Syro-Phonecian woman.  She was a foreigner—Jesus all but called her a ‘dog’ and declined her request to heal her daughter.  With a profound faith, the woman responded that even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the table—even if she was an outsider, it didn’t lessen Jesus’ mission to the Jewish people to heal her daughter.  Indeed, it confirmed God’s will that his people be a light to the world.

St. Augustine famously said, “Truth is where you find it.”  My prayer is that, as we go about our lives and encounter others, we can have the same sense of God’s growing and abundant grace in the faces of others, whomever they may be.

Christ's Peace,

David