Who is “We”?
These days I’m thinking about who we mean when we say “we.” This is the question that I want to set here on the table for you and for us (the Church of Our Redeemer), as we move into this transitional time and the summer.
I heard someone on the radio say, “Let’s celebrate that we all made it through!” I was baffled—who on earth is “we”? Many of us have died—us humans, us Americans, us Bostonians, us radio-listeners.
And last week, a friend said “how great that we don’t need to wear masks anymore.” This “we” was meant to encompass our friend groups and families, but it wasn’t accurate. One of my family members is immunocompromised and has a lung condition; they will absolutely need to keep wearing a mask longer than others. Since there’s no good data yet on how the vaccine protects (or doesn’t) immunocompromised people, my family is going forward assuming this person’s life and health is still somewhat at risk.
And yes, some can now go around unmasked and perhaps get up to the level of activity we had previously. But those with chronic illnesses or disabilities will continue with the access and precautions they had pre-pandemic, and may need to continue masking, limiting activity, or working from home. When we say “we can go back to normal,” the “we” is only able-bodied.
And let’s remember—America is only one place on Earth. Our choices here (as individuals, as businesses, as a government) will still affect other people elsewhere. Especially in church, and for the whole Church—all Christians across the globe—the word “we” includes people in a vast array of conditions.
To me, noticing and naming all of these things doesn’t feel negative or a downer. It’s the opposite! Looking at the whole picture is liberating, because it is the truth. Whenever we get closer to the truth we get closer to the one Truth, God.
So I invite you to join me in being specific this summer when we say “we.” For example, on Sunday at the outdoor service, we’ll pray for “we who are gathered here, and those of us gathered elsewhere.” Even when we don’t say it out loud, it’s good to get clear on “we” in our minds and hearts. We (who are alive today) have made it through so far. We (the whole community of believers) have much to mourn and also much to celebrate. We (Our Redeemer) can continue walking together and finding a faithful way forward in this bizarre time.
I am so glad to be doing this with you!