When I taught middle school, I frequently told my students, “You have two eyes, two ears, and only one mouth. To learn, you should look and listen twice as much as you talk.” I’ve tried to follow that advice when I have been given opportunities to learn, even if those learning experiences were not what I expected, was accustomed to, or were even a little uncomfortable.
In his sermon a couple of weeks ago, Rev. David preached about Jesus’ encounter with a Canaanite woman (Matthew 15:21-28). That scripture has always made me uncomfortable because it seems to cast Jesus as being unfeeling and a bit superior to someone different from him: a woman of another culture and religion. But when the woman had the audacity to challenge what Jesus said to her, he did not send her away but listened to her reasoning and she received what she needed.
Throughout my life, I’ve had quite a few opportunities to learn about and from people of other races, cultures, religions, sexual orientations, and opinions, beginning with our family. Our family’s makeup is a mishmash ranging from conservative to liberal, Baptist, Presbyterian, Jewish, non-denominational, Disciples, and searching/unsure. We have a gay couple, long-marrieds, divorced, LSU fans, Ole Miss supporters, and one rabidly opinionated Alabama devotee whom we love and tolerate anyway. I’ve worked with, taught, and worshipped with people of different races, multiple cultures, various religions, and differing opinions but have tried to listen to and learn from them. It has not always been easy but it has been valuable in my growth as a person and as a Christian.
For the past two years, I have had the opportunity to serve as one of First Christian Church’s delegates to the Interfaith Federation of Baton Rouge where I have again learned from people of different races, cultures, religions, and opinions. As your delegate, I would like to offer you a couple of learning experiences. 1.) This year instead of having to get up, get dressed, and drive, you can enjoy the Interfaith Prayer Breakfast online from the comfort of your home. The date is Tuesday, September 1, 8 a.m. (music begins at 7:45). Pre-registration is required; go to ifedgbr.com. If you can’t attend the breakfast, please pray for our world throughout the day. 2.) Rev. Robin McCullough-Bade, Interfaith Director, has put together a video series about race titled More than Kumbaya. The series of ten videos featuring conversations with local Baton Rouge leaders can be viewed on the Federation website. I have watched all the videos and, in my opinion, some are better than others. I’ll be happy to recommend one, some, or all if you are interested in my suggestions (email@example.com).
Jesus commanded us to love God and to love one another. Jesus also listened to and learned from someone different from Himself. Let us follow His example.
Gracious and Creator God: Thank you for loving us. Thank you for sending Jesus to tell and to show us how we should live and learn. Help us to be open to sisters and brothers around us because we are your children. Amen.
Offered by Beverly Tipton
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