As Christians, we are called to be peacemakers and to break down walls that divide us from each other. We refuse to label people. We are called to extend the hospitality of God and to live in beloved community with our neighbors.
Grace and peace to you in the name of Jesus Christ.
“We refuse to be enemies.” These words are painted boldly on a large rock to the entrance of the Nasser family farm. The Nasser family live just outside of Bethlehem, the birthplace of our Lord. They are Palestinian Christians and they have farmed this land for many, many, many years. On their farm are beautiful gardens and orchards and wonderful farm animals. They welcomed our group of 45 from the North Carolina Annual Conference on the last day in January and told us their story. On hilltops to the east and west are encroaching settlements. Settlers building on Palestinian land illegally and yet the proclamation of the Nasser family over and over and over again is embodied in this welcome rock – We refuse to be enemies.
The appointed Gospel lessons in this season after Epiphany have taken us to the Sermon on the Mount, where we are taught again the way of Christian discipleship. Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God. We long to break down the dividing walls as the apostle Paul wrote and to build beloved community.
The movie recently released, “Hidden Figures,” is a gift to us in this regard. It tells the story of three brilliant mathematicians – Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson. These three brilliant women broke all expectations of race and gender, offering their brilliance to undergird the space program of the United States in the 1960’s. I encourage you to see the movie and learn this amazing history.
The North Carolina Conference is deeply committed to anti-racism. We are called to this work in this time. Very recently, a Ku Klux Klan sign was planted in the yard of a United Methodist family, members of New Creation United Methodist Church in Durham. We deplore such action and we long to stand in every community doing what is right, encircling with love our neighbors and living in beloved community. We refuse to be enemies. We refuse to label people. We refuse to be builders of walls. Instead, we offer the hospitality of God, the Pentecost spirit in which all find welcome.