Today I will attend the funeral of my maternal uncle. He is the last of his generation and the elders of our tribe. That side of the family is Catholic. I will attend as a defector of the faith of the family. I am not attending as a lapsed Catholic, but as a baptized Baptist, an ordained minister and member of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). This reunion of family and friends will take place during the visit of Pope Francis to the United States. My family is likely heartened and proud of this Pope and their relationship to his faith and the Catholic Church in this their time of deep grief.
Close-knit does not describe my family or our family history. We know each other and acknowledge life events together as well as the long periods in between. But today, we will gather, humbled and sincere as we celebrate the life of Father, Grandfather, and Uncle. We will realistically celebrate his few words and his tangible accomplishments as public and private citizen. We will share in the memories of his investment in each of us and be genuinely glad.
Having read manuscript of Pope Francis’ address to the Joint Session of Congress on yesterday, I too, am heartened and proud as a Disciple. Today, I chose to be glad in celebrating this special emphasis weekend of Reconciliation Ministry with our church family as well. Close-knit is not a word I use to describe this family either. We are a peculiar people committed to sharing the God News of Jesus Christ from our doorsteps to the ends of the earth, even at the risk of making numerous missteps. To be reconciled literally means to ‘re’ – to go back and ‘reconciliere’ to bring together. It means to go back and bring together that which has lapsed or is broken. In our emphasis we specifically address broken relationship as it has become systematized and institutionalized.
Our communities and congregations face welcoming returning citizens from our nation’s prisons and from the lands which we shared with its original citizens. We commit to go back and bring together the brokenness that is the result of our efforts to share in a legacy of flawed judicial and immigration systems. We re-commit to advocate for the repairing of the breach between citizen and community. The methods we will employ as individual congregations will vary but will be sincere in every attempt. Some of us will collaborate with our ecumenical and interfaith neighborhood partners through congregation-based community organizing initiatives. Other of us will prepare water bottles and deliver them to the desert or urban deserts to quench the hunger and thirst of our siblings for dignity through mission. Whatever approach we take, your Church covets your financial commitment to bring together the reality of reconciliation in our lives and the life of our beloved Church.
This Sunday, September 26th and next Sunday, October 4th our Special Offering theme is simply “Be Reconciled: Heal Together, Move Together, Bound Together.” Our theme scripture informs us before we do and are anything in the church, we are to be reconciled. We are to bring back together the hurting, the disenfranchised and dis-membered to the whole family and community. Pope Francis referred to this life-giving work as the restoring the ‘transcendent dignity of every (the) human being.’
Despite the inclination of our minds to interpret our charge in different ways, in this season we re-commit to heal together, to move together and to accept that we are inextricably bound together in the liberation of all for the family of God.
Your giving to Reconciliation Ministry (click here) helps us in achieving our commitment to be reconciled and to love one another as God has loved us.
May it be so . . .
Your Minister of Reconciliation
Rev. April G. Johnson