Our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.
I have been thinking about JFK’s words this past week as I walked about the downtown streets of Philadelphia, “the City of Brotherly (and Sisterly) Love.” More on why Linda and I were in the “Cradle of Freedom” later. We were just grateful to have found an earlier flight out late Wednesday morning and just missed the worst of the 4th Nor’Easter snowstorm to hit Philly this Winter and Spring. We landed at DFW and discovered our flight was one of the last ones out before the airport virtually shut down.
This Sunday is Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week and the day Christians around the world remember Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem and mark the beginning of Holy Week. Triumphal, yet curious, as he enters on the opposite side of the city from where a King (such as Caesar) would enter and, instead of entering with a royal entourage on a warhorse, enters riding a donkey.
The entry, and the whole ministry of Jesus, begs the question of what it means to live in the Kingdom of God and, for us today, what it means to find God in the world.
So, as I walked the streets of the “Birthplace of America” this past week, I wondered about our most common links as human beings and took some mental notes as we encountered people from around the world. I considered the air we all breathe, the massive oil refineries lining the canals that lead to the Atlantic and the shared sky we all live under as the city and its visitors braced for another “always sunny in Philly sky” turning dark grey to dump snow on the first day of Spring.
Devon, a homeless man we met our first night, with whom we shared a sandwich and listened to stories of surviving fires, childhood trauma, and his dreams of publishing his story and being on Oprah. Alekah, a young woman and mother who moved to Philadelphia from Kenya to study business and was now working as a desk hostess at The Windsor Suites where we were staying. The day after we’d attended a play at the Walnut Theater, “the oldest continuously operating theater company in the English speaking world,” she laughed, said she hoped we’d enjoyed it and then side remarked, “Maybe the oldest ‘continuous’ theater and company, but Shakespeare’s Globe theater would likely have own that title more legitimately if not for that fire in 1613. And, of course, Greco-Roman theater dates back to the 6th century BC. That’s some old theater compared to the Walnut!” One of our Lyft drivers was a young father from Uzbekistan, who spends most of his time working from his home for a local financial company, drives on the side, and then takes care of his son while his wife (also a recent resident of the US) completes her medical studies at Jefferson University.
Neighborhoods often make up our daily existence, those people whom we live with — whether by geographical or virtual proximity. At their best, to quote writer and columnist Diana Butler Bass, “neighborhoods are open tribes that practice hospitality and the Golden Rule.”
The Commons, on the other hand, is what people live for, the larger reality and world that tribes and neighbors can make together to serve the good for all.
There’s definitely something of this idea of The Commons that is at the heart of Jesus’ notion of God’s Kingdom and his strange way of entering it on Palm Sunday. There’s something of the Commons Linda and I unintentionally, but profoundly, began to experience as we walked about “not so sunny Philadelphia,” and it’s profoundly at the heart of where we can find God in the midst of our human co-existence with life.
I hope you can join us Palm Sunday, March 25, as we explore, “Finding God in the Commons.” Actor Jakie Cabe will be with us to shed some theatrical perspective on the topic as will the band with music from Paul Simon, Dave Carter, CSN, and Matisyahu. Brad will also be joined by friend and guest singer/songwriter Karen Leah.
Associate Pastor of eleven:eleven celebration
Also . . . here are some upcoming opportunities for you:
Easter Sunday | April 1
11:11 am | Wesley Hall
“God in the Mischief and Mystery!”
Rev. Tom McDermott
Special Guest Singer/Songwriter, Hannah Kirby
(Finalist on The Voice)
Come early for Pre-Celebration Music
Cellist, Dace Sultanov
We invite you to sign up today to serve with these amazing opportunities to bless Fort Worth. First, the local Cowtown Brush Up will be held Saturday, April 7. Then, you can bless others by signing up for any of the three Habitat for Humanity build dates, scheduled for Saturdays, May 5, 12, and 19.