It was my first meeting of this sort. There was an important controversial matter up for discussion and vote which would most surely prove to be lively. A decision that would inform the future of the larger body. I had entered with my own preconceived outcome in mind, sure that I was right. Apparently so had everyone else because the tension was palpable. There were two microphones set up. One on the far left. One on the far right. The folks who felt strongly one way lined up on the right side to speak into the right microphone. The folks who felt strongly the other way lined up on the left side to speak into the left microphone. (Of course, even as I type this I see that the right and the left are a matter of perspective, although therein lies a whole ‘nother argument!) The debate was very organized and very civilized. But underneath all that organization and civil-ization, hmmm, there was passion and anger. And as the passion rose and the anger heated, the words became more and more hostile. And those of us who didn’t have the nerve, or permission, to speak were sitting and stewing in our own level of hostility. How can “they” think that way? They are just plain wrong! My sense of foundational righteousness was reaching a fevered pitch when it was abruptly interrupted as my eye caught sight of the cross. The cross in the middle of the sanctuary. In the center, high above all of us. Perhaps it was the light reflecting from its polished brass that revealed the dark brooding state of my heart. Or perhaps because I had to stop looking down at others in order to look up to see it. Whatever the reason, I was halted in my own self-righteous tracks. Convicted. Busted. Who did I think I was? Who were any of us? What were we doing? Was anything going on here revealing even the slightest reflection of the love of Christ? Would anyone be able to recognize grace among us?
I began to wonder. What if? What if, instead of two microphones on the far sides, a great distance from one another, there was one? Right there in the center. Under the cross. What if folks from both sides of the argument had to meet in the middle in order to speak for their side? What if people from differing sides had to stand in the same line? Next to one another, waiting their turn. What if “opponents” had to look each other in the eye and pass the microphone to one another, perhaps brushing against each other, skin to skin? Skin to skin is an important bonding experience for preemies and their mothers. Could it be so for theological warriors? That’s crazy I suppose. Silly even. Probably wouldn’t change a thing. One microphone, in the center? It would take too much time. People would have to exert more effort walking the distance to the microphone in order to speak if it was in the center, away from the sides on which they were sitting. Yes, it would take more time and effort, and patience. And patience is hard to come by in the midst of a heated and polarizing battle of proof text, when each and every word weighs heavily against the other. But, wouldn’t it be something?
My conviction, my wondering, my yearning is, of course, not about a microphone. But about a way in which we might somehow give voice to the incarnational Love that has been poured out as a gift of humility and grace. Love that has the power to transform an instrument of division and death into a bridge of hope and life for all. A love that demands no defense, but desires to be lived. A love that flows from the very heart of God, entrusted to the body of humanity. Something to chew on….