Still to come
Disagreements about mandatory vaccines, opposing perspectives on how best to end racism, competing views of the climate crisis...there seems be a never-ending supply of causes for division. And the one thing Jesus taught above all was unity--unity with God, with each other, and with our neighbours. Not conformity, not niceness, but unity. Unity amid disagreement. Unity in dissent. Unity among diversity of thought. But, for now at least, we have to wait for that vision to be fulfilled.
And waiting is the most difficult of all.
When I was commuting to work in Calgary, I would ride my road bike in the sunny, warm weather and take public transit in the winter. I have yet to encounter any activity colder than waiting for a bus or C-Train. Sure I could distract myself, but otherwise my options for moving things along were entirely limited.
With regards to unity prevailing over that which divides us, it's a much more active waiting than, say, waiting for the bus. But, if I'm being vulnerably honest, it's actually not clear to me that anything I've done in my life has moved us toward unity any faster than had I waited passively! Nevertheless, to accept a passive waiting is akin to admitting powerlessness or to accepting that things should remain as they are, despite the excess of suffering in the world. Yes, we need to find equanimity with the state of the world and, at the same time, we need an honest reckoning with that which is within our realm of influence.
I can't end the Covid pandemic or the vaccine mandates, but I can listen to someone who disagrees with me.
I can't end racism or the potentially harmful ways of trying to address it, but I can listen to someone who disagrees with me.
I can't end the climate crisis or convince my children we will avert catastrophe, but I can listen to someone who disagrees with me.
Maybe this Advent and Christmas is a perfect time to listen, like actually listen, to someone who disagrees with me, and not for the purpose of changing their minds but simply for the purpose of understanding theirs. It sure beats sitting on a bench hoping this thing is going to arrive.
Perhaps celebrating that diversity of thought is how we uncover the unity to which Christ invites us.