The family is gathered around the table. We have the Rummicub game all set up to play. Everyone has drawn their tiles and we see if anyone can meld. So there are a few rounds of just drawing tiles until you get to the right amount to lay down. As we all start laying down and moving the tiles around when someone gets stuck the person next to them may look over at their tiles and show them where they can play. We celebrate the beauty of moving every single rummy into a new pattern that allows you to get rid of all your tiles. We have laid out the game, its Scrabble this time. We have each drawn our tiles and we start to play. Everyone makes words and we let things slide with inventive spellings. We help each other make words we hadn’t seen or a spot for those extra vowels. We are lucky if a high score is over a hundred. The goal my family has when playing games is to have fun, enjoy each other’s company and if you win that was just an aside. So imagine the shock to my system when I am at my new in-laws and they pull out the Scrabble board. I knew I was in trouble when they pulled out the official scrabble dictionary and took a long time to lay down a word. So the game started and they were not happy if the score of the word wasn’t over 12 points at least. This was a competitive, everyone out for themselves game.
I have been thinking about this difference a style lately as I watch the competitive, unkindness of our political system. We see each other as the competition, as the one we have to defeat in order to win. Lately this has led to a model of how to act where working together with those who are on the other side is seen as a failing. Compromise and cooperation are scene as weakness instead of strengths. How do we in the church model a better way of relating to each other?
21 "You're familiar with the command to the ancients, 'Do not murder.' 22 I'm telling you that anyone who is so much as angry with a brother or sister is guilty of murder. Carelessly call a brother 'idiot!' and you just might find yourself hauled into court. Thoughtlessly yell 'stupid!' at a sister and you are on the brink of hellfire. The simple moral fact is that words kill. 23 "This is how I want you to conduct yourself in these matters. If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, 24 abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God. 25 "Or say you're out on the street and an old enemy accosts you. Don't lose a minute. Make the first move; make things right with him. After all, if you leave the first move to him, knowing his track record, you're likely to end up in court, maybe even jail. 26 If that happens, you won't get out without a stiff fine. Matt 5:21-26
Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount challenges us to see the world in a new way, to interact with people that restores our humanity. We so easily turn to insults and disparage people and Jesus tells us that if we insult each other we should seek help from our religious leaders. We are to reconcile with each when we have fought with each other. We are to create a world where we work together with our accusers, those who have harmed and insulted us. The Holy One shows us that it will not be easy but we are called to change the way we react to and interact with other people. Jesus calls us to build a world of healing and equality. Jesus calls us to hope for a future where the marginalized and ostracized are brought into our community as equals and we are healed of those behaviors that separate us. Jesus moves us to look at our hearts and seek reconciliation and cooperation. Jesus moves us to work together to bring the Holy One's Dream for the world closer.