This Lent, I want to invite and challenge you to participate in Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s program, “From Many, One”. In the aftermath of a divisive election, the attack on the Capitol, and the separation and isolation we’re all experiencing due to the pandemic, building bridges, nurturing relationships, and doing the work of reconciliation is more important than ever. The only way to do this is one relationship, one conversation, at a time. So, this Lent, consider making the pledge to have one or more one-on-one conversations with people who are different than you. The “difference” can be any kind – age, race, political viewpoint, religion, or anything else.
The Presiding Bishop has offered a framework for these one-on-one conversations that is non-threatening and focuses on honest sharing and storytelling. The idea is to ask each other four questions:
- What do you love?
- What have you lost?
- Where does it hurt?
- What do you dream?
These questions are ones that help us name our truths in ways that are personal, heartfelt and honest.
There is a video online with an example conversation to help you get the feel for it. I was very surprised to see that the two people in the video are the Rev. Canon Susan Russel, who founded Integrity USA, the group within the Episcopal church that has led the fight for the full inclusion of LGBTQ members into the life of the church, and Bishop Greg Brewer of the Diocese of Central Florida, arguably one of the most conservative dioceses in the Episcopal Church. I could not imagine these two people talking to each other! But talk they did and they had a great conversation which you can see here: https://fast.wistia.net/embed/channel/dlbl4ysk9c?wchannelid=dlbl4ysk9c
It’s so important that we, as Christians, work against the “othering” in our current culture and help re-knit the fabric of our communities. I hope you’ll join in and make this part of your Lenten observance.
To share more about “From Many, One”, answer your questions, and give a few tips and ideas about who to ask and how to get conversations started, I will be hosting the Adult Forum on Sunday, February 21 on this topic. Join us to learn more! Then, on Sunday, March 28 (Palm Sunday) we’ll gather again at Adult Forum time to share our experiences, talk about what was difficult or easy, and reflect on what we learned about ourselves and others.
You can learn much more and sign up for a weekly newsletter here: https://www.episcopalchurch.org/from-many-one/
As Presiding Bishop Curry says, “Conversation with others across difference is not just a nice thing to do. It is a spiritual practice of love in action.”