Real Mission: Grounded
I'm just going to come right out and say it . . . it's been a rough couple of weeks. If I was a person who used expletives, I would insert them here, but of course, I am not.
That felt good.
At a time like this, I think it is important that we surround ourselves with people who keep us grounded. These people may be family members, close friends, or if you’re really lucky, co-workers. Most of the people who keep me grounded have either known me for more than 30 years, or less than 3. Sometimes, but quite rarely, these rooted people are strangers: friends you haven’t met yet. One of those people for me is Walter Brueggemann. Rumor has it that some of you actually know him, with no need to fan-girl from Erie Avenue.
I want to share with you all a prayer that he wrote about twenty years ago that has been weighing on my heart in these hard times.
The God we would rather have
by Walter Brueggemann
We are your people and mostly we don't mind,
except that you do not fit in any of our categories.
We keep pushing
trying to make you fit the God we would rather have,
and every time we distort you that way we end up with an Idol more congenial to us.
In our more honest moments of grief and pain we are very glad that you are who you are,
and that you are toward us in all your freedom that you have been toward us.
So be your faithful self
and by your very engagement in the suffering of the world,
transform the world even as you are being changed.
We pray in the name of Jesus, who is the sign of your suffering love. Amen.
The honest of this prayer is inspiring, and dare I say, comforting.
We are your people O God, and mostly, we don't mind.
But sometimes we want you to pick favorites, to fix it for us, to take away our hardships.
We want to believe that we are the ones who’ve got You all figured out. Sometimes, we fall into the trap of assuming that being your people means that those other people are not also your people.
Another not friend yet that keeps me grounded is Anne Lamott. She says that “You can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do."
When “God hates” is in our vocabulary, we can safely assume that we have pulled and twisted and turned God into something that God is not, but certainly something that is more congenial to us. God is not subject to our need for difference and separation. God does not rank our righteousness or punish us for falling short.
God is Love, and where true love is, God is truly there.
Sometimes we tell ourselves that God is easy and simple; convenient to leave within the walls of the Church, within the rings of our social circles, within the spheres of our political leanings, among the anthems of our patriotisms. We are God’s people, and mostly, we don’t mind.
But you know when we do mind?
We mind when God doesn’t fit into the box that we have built for God to dwell in. We mind when God’s New Covenant disrupts our lives and compels us to love without limit and give without hesitation. We mind when the Covenant compels us to be God’s people not just on Sunday morning but on Friday night and Tuesday afternoon and every moment in between.
“I will be their God, and they shall be my people,” God says to us through the Prophets of old. I will make with them a new covenant, “I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts…No longer will they have to say to one another “know the Lord” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest."
You know God, and you know what God is about. We study God in Scripture and song week after week and we continually find that God is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
We see this most clearly in our Eucharistic feast where Christ is buried within us, like that grain of wheat in the Gospel. That grain of wheat that is crucified, died, and buried within us; a grain of wheat that grows forth from us as a bountiful harvest ready to be shared with those who hunger.
If you find yourself in a place where God hates all of the same people you do, circle back. Find the people who keep you grounded. The ones who keep you rooted in love. If they are friends, call them. If they are strangers, read them. If you haven’t been there in a while, re-connect. The Church, I pray, keeps you rooted and grounded.
God hates nothing in creation but is constantly calling us all to reconciliation and forgiveness, to self-sacrifice and sacred sharing. God is good when we are not, and God is faithful to the end of the age.
Be grateful that God is who God is; and not the God we would rather have. Give thanks that God’s ways are not our ways, because this world needs more of the Divine, and fewer idols.
Find your way to the source of peace, to the root of us all, and say to the one who keeps you grounded, "We will be your people. And you shall be our God."
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