January 18th I had the joy of visiting Church of Our Saviour Somerset, a parish that is powerful example of what it means to be authentic Christian community. Their rector, Kate has built a community at Church of Our Saviour committed to learning from one another as they discern what it means to be a disciple of Christ. This mutual learning environment has developed leadership, spiritual depth and a sense of joy that fills the parish.
This culture of Church of Our Saviour made it easy to preach on the call to relationship. The sermon highlights that being a disciple of Christ is primarily about responding to the recognition that Christ abides in humanity and exists in each one of us, this is the miracle of the incarnation. Therefore, we can only fully know God through being in authentic relationship with one another. The work of being in relationship in a way that reveals our identity in God and challenges us to live a life as agents of reconciliation … this is church. This is important in parish life but also in the way that we engage with the pain of the world. The sermon address how this dynamic of relationship MUST be in place if we are to respond rightly to the racial injustices in the U.S. today.
While I was in the states I had lunch with lovely group of people connected to All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena CA. Our conversation centered on how we, in our various life sages and professions, can best represent Christ and the love he had for people in this world. During our conversation Juliana, the director if community connections at All Saints, raised the issue of charity vs. justice. Though inherently something in her resisted a charity model she felt like our faith stories endorse ‘mercy ministry.’ While I fully support mercy I think the interpretation of these acts of Christ as charitable (in our understanding of the word) is incomplete. Take for example the store below when Jesus heals a leper.
I began saying my goodbyes mid January, I was sitting on a rickety wood bench in Embu Kenya, peering into the eyes of my good friend Patrick. I told him, in about a year I’m going to be returning to America and I won’t be coming back for a bit. It would be sad, but I would come visit as much as I could. I started to cry, not big tears but soft tears of recognition that this phase of my life would end soon.
It’s my goal to walk into this departure full on and accepting all of it. There are so many moments I enjoy here, the glance of my best friend, children dancing on the streets, gospel music blaring on Sunday mornings. I will not have those soon and it’s good to be as prepared as I can be for that loss.
A Reflection on Jal Mehta’s, The Allure of Order, Part 1
In the past two years I have traversed the borders of the US and Africa five times. With each crossing I am more aware of the parallels between the challenges faced between the two nations. Though appearances and circumstance may cause them to appear different on the surface, the core struggles that we face are strikingly similar.
This truth reared its head again during my recent reading of The Allure of Order by Jal Mehta a professor at the Graduate School of Education at Harvard University. Mehta opens with a catalog of failed attempts to fix an underperforming and inequitable US education system at the top of the pyramid, through policy: the most recent and (in)famous of these attempts being President George W. Bush’s ‘No Child Left Behind.’
Mehta’s ability to depict our human desire to control and manage broken situations (brokenness defined as, “the results we are seeing are far from our expectations.”) rather than work within them and alongside them to create long-term change resonated deeply with the challenge I experience in Kenya around child poverty.