“Restorative Dialogue and the Way of Christ”

 

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

Ephesians 4:2-6 (NIV)

 

Articles and opinion pieces pointing to politically inspired division in the American church can be found up and down most evangelical twitter feeds. This post is not intended to be unique or groundbreaking, but an invitation to the people who call Harris Creek home to be present with each other in the midst of a divisive political season. Jesus-loving people feel isolated and misunderstood on both sides of the aisle. Many of us admit we don’t feel quite at home on one side or the other. We’re not meant to. We are meant to live reconciled lives reflecting the God whose image we were created.

 

“As in the Trinity, spiritual unity is diversity loved and overcome, never mere uniformity.”

-Richard Rohr

 

In an attempt to combat disgust in the months leading to the 2016 election, Trinity Grace Church Tribecain New York City held a prayer service featuring childhood photos of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. This bold expression exemplifies a Christlike view of the “other”. Regardless of party affiliation, our consensus must be the refusal to deny the humanity of those who do not share our views. As the church, we cannot claim to hold the key to the hope of the world and peace surpassing all understanding and allow the dehumanization of our own brothers and sisters in Christ (or anyone, for that matter). We do not have to endorse a specific candidate in order to use our voice. We all have the same goal – “On earth as it is in heaven.”

Brene Brown’s, Braving the Wildernessopened my eyes to my own prejudice against “the other”.  She reminds us, “it is not easy to hate people close up” (65). We must move in with humility and unclenched fists. I can’t help but think of the “Mean Tweets” segment on Jimmy Kimmel Live. When you see a person (whether you like them or not) reading degrading words about themselves written from the safety of someone else’s keyboard, it is a wakeup call to the humanity behind the celebrity. If our heart can be softened toward an actor we will never meet, surely we can find common ground within our community of believers to pave the way for restorative conversations.

There are individuals on every tick of the political spectrum who reached their conclusions through their understanding of Christ’s lens. Others cling to a false hope in the political system out of self-protection or fear. We need to create space to sit with every one of these experiences before healing and true unity can occur.  Community is fostered when the opportunity to be heard is equally as important as the willingness to hear.

Brown points to the Institute for Civility in Government’s definition of civility:

Civility is claiming and caring for one’s identity, needs, and beliefs without degrading someone else’s in the process. Civility is about disagreeing without disrespect, seeking common good as a starting point for dialogue about differences, listening past one’s preconceptions, and teaching others to do the same. Civility is the hard work of staying present even with whom we gave deep-rooted and fierce disagreements. It is political in the sense that it is a necessary prerequisite for civic action.  But it is political, too, in the sense that it is about negotiating interpersonal power such that everyone’s voice is heard, and nobody’s is ignored.

Once we experience the radical grace of Jesus, we see every facet of life through his lens. Our experience informs our how we view and treat others; how we spend our time and money; how we engage our community and our world. Seeing through Christ’s lens is to see others as a creation in God’s image. Yep. Even that person. Her, too. And him. Everyone. Instead of being threatened by one another or getting defensive, let’s try a posture of reception. Let’s listen and receive; taking time to hear the heart behind our neighbor’s point of view without vilifying or assuming the worst. Let’s make room to hear the heart behind the fear, anger, or hurt—loosening our tightly gripped fists.

Wednesday, October 17, Reclaim Recovery will host a space for healing conversations. We will offer room to listen, process, and pray with one another. Join us from 6-8p in the Sunwest Student Center, or the Downtown Hub. We will host a reflective and respectful conversation open to anyone needing to process their frustration, confusion, or hurt amidst the election season and recent political events. No political agenda will be pushed. Hateful discourse will not be tolerated. Followers of Christ must lead the way in loving across the aisle.

The political conversation is a precursor to a new six-week series offered by Reclaim. Beginning  Wednesday, October 24, Reclaim Restorative Conversations will take place at the Downtown Campus Hub from 12-1p. This will be a time of learning to lament, listen, and understand how to heal decades of hurt and anger across racial lines. We hope you will consider joining us in this restoration-seeking conversation the church cannot ignore.

Opportunities to practice Restorative Dialogue at Harris Creek:

  • Restorative Political Dialogue
    • Wednesday, October 17 during Reclaim Recovery (6-8p) at the Downtown and Sunwest Campuses.

We will host a reflective and respectful conversation open to anyone needing to process their frustration, confusion, or hurt amidst the election season and recent political events

  • Reclaim Restorative Conversations
    • Wednesdays October 24-Decemeber 5 (12-1p) at the Downtown Campus.

Join us for a six-week study on racial tensions in our culture in the context of the church and how to take the first steps toward restoration through conversations around responsibility and reconciliation. Bring your own lunch.

 

Storey Wilkes Cook

half of @grahamandstorey. momma to two. work in progress.

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