All for one and one for all! – Alexandre Dumas (The Three Musketeers)
E pluribus unam. – Original US official National Seal (1782)
All that you touch, you change. All that you change changes you. The only lasting truth is change. God is change. – Octavia Butler
You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you… – Jesus (The Message)
I’m feeling pretty exhausted these days!
Maybe it’s just the heat of Summer in Texas!
Maybe it’s the reality of change that keeps knocking at the door reminding me that what I once found comforting or familiar or safe, or even logical, has moved on and there’s a new reality on the block, a different way of doing things – a relentless post-pandemic whirlwind of consequences (both good and bad) that seem to be forcing me to adapt, fight, or retreat.
Maybe you’re feeling that, too. And try as we might to stay clear of it all, we feel increasingly drawn into the toxic struggle between what we know to be right and what we know to be wrong with all of it, and the fact that we can’t seem to make any real progress in the matter.
Personally, I start to deconstruct all the ways I feel helpless to affect change – vitriolic attitudes online, mass shootings seem ever present, ongoing racism and LGBTQ oppression, rising gas prices and economic insecurity, the political craziness looming around the corner. And soon enough, I get why so many people simply retreat to like-minded groups or their small circles of friends, or travel, or find time-consuming hobbies, or Netflix and a good book! Life is complicated and exhausting!
eleven:eleven attendee Dan Manning sent me a quote by Damien Barr this morning that I found wise help. “We are not all in the same boat. We are in the same storm. Some have yachts, some have canoes, and some are drowning. Just be kind and help when you can.”
Reminded me of the words of John Wesley, 18th century Church of England cleric and founder of the Methodist movement, who said, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Love is not content with barely working no evil to our neighbor. It continually incites us to do good: as we have time, and opportunity, to do good in every possible kind, and in every possible degree to all (people).”
It’s not enough to “do no evil to our neighbor’. Do good…
So… what does “do good” look like, then, in the face of being stuck in intractable, toxic relationships with the “other side”?
What does “do good” look like in the face of the unfamiliar and uncomfortable moments we find ourselves in online, at the store, at a dinner party with family or friends, or at a gas station while on vacation?
What does “in every possible kind… and degree” mean when we find ourselves frustrated and angry with the changes around us at our work or church or neighborhood – the familiar comfortable settings of our lives now uncomfortable and unsettled?
And how is it possible to practice the art of kindness and doing good when we find ourselves in the unrelenting grip of illness and suffering?
Well, I don’t have an answer, as such. But I do have an idea, a path. And we’ve been talking about it at eleven:eleven, dancing with it, for the past few weeks during this season of Pentecost as we make our way to our annual Declaration of Interdependence! It’s the triune dance of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. The historical Christian Doctrine of the Trinity – God, Jesus, and Spirit. Or maybe think of it as Creator, Love, and Inspiration (or even Ground, Being, and Breath). Truth is, the Church has wrestled with the meaning of the Doctrine of the Trinity for more than 2000 years! So don’t be too bothered by it if it doesn’t make any sense to you (I’m sure you’ve experienced many a sleepless night over the matter!) Just remember, some people were exiled or executed for their different ideas. But still, don’t lose any sleep over it! You’ll be fine. We’ll all be fine.
And as I said, there really is a helpful path here for us as we face life and the realities of change!
The Triune Dance of Change… sometimes it’s more like mud-wrestling than a dance. But who hasn’t had some fun slip-sliding in the mud! Especially on a hot summer day!
Let’s talk about it this Sunday, June 26, in eleven:eleven, downtown!
In the meantime, stay cool. Hydrate. Try to have some fun.
And do good…
Go in pieces,
SPECIAL REMINDER: This Sunday, June 26, at 9:30, join a number of eleven:eleven folks, along with the Gathering and Traditional worship communities, to celebrate Dr. Tim Bruster with his final sermon with FUMCFW as he retires officially. “Dr. B” has had such a great ministry with FUMCFW and been a tireless voice for inclusion, diversity, and compassionate justice in Ft. Worth, and the United Methodist Church as a whole, for the past 20 years (with more than 40 years in ministry overall)! Hope you can join us.
Then take a quick coffee/pastry break at the Historic 512 and join rev. linda mcdermott, myself, brad thompson and the band at eleven:eleven, downtown for a curious, playful, and inspiring look at the Doctrine of the Trinity and the healing path of change!
See you Sunday!
This Sunday, June 26 9:30 a.m. • FUMCFW, Sanctuary Joint Worship w The Gathering & Trad Services “A Celebration of Dr. Tim Bruster’s Ministry” 11:11 a.m. • The Historic 512 eleven:eleven, downtown “mud-wrestling with the holy trinity – a path for change!” revs. tom & linda mcdermott brad thompson, kagan parker, and the revolution band with the music of carrie newcomer, charles gaby, one republic, and first aid kit!