Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Living in Harmony Means Working for Justice and Equality by Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP

Unsplash: Clay Banks




See how good, how pleasant it is

for God's people to live together as one!

Psalm 133:1 (IP)



"We all live under the cloud of potential shaming and potential violence as long as we live in a society that enforces hierarchies of human value where violence is often perpetuated by institutions of power, writes Valerie Kaur,  "Individual acts of love are not enough. We need to be part of movements that help us wonder, grieve and fight together." (See No Stranger, p. 29.)


One example, close to my heart is the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests/ARCWP.  This international community is part of a worldwide movement that ordains women for public ministry in the Roman Catholic Church, violating a man made rule that discriminates against women. ARCWP makes the connections between patriarchal oppression of women in the Church and poverty, violence and abuse of women and against all marginalized peoples.  Injustice anywhere, as Martin Luther King, taught, is a violation of justice everywhere because everyone is equal and everyone is a beloved image of the Divine. If we want harmony, we must join together and work for justice and equality. 


In today's computer age, with instant communications and information through the Internet, the world seems to be getting

smaller. Sitting comfortably in our living rooms, we can see news happening in far-off corners of the globe twenty-four hours a day. Today's technology allows people from different cultures and nations to work together on projects for the advancement of humankind.  At the dawn of the twenty-first century, we have become a "global village." Yet wars and violence continue  to be part of our daily reality. Despite the technology that brings us closer together, we still have a hard time getting along. Our con­flicts continue to bring great pain and sadness into our world.



One of my dreams has been to bring together people from different faiths to consider urgent social, moral and spiritual issues and to discern common ground. Pursuing that dream, I have participated in various ecumenical days of prayer, retreats and social justice projects.  Mary, Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community, my faith community meets in a UCC Church , where we celebrate ecumenical liturgies and collaborate on local social justice issues. 


In 1998, a friend of mine suggested that I start a television program called "Godtalk." I thought it was a great idea, so I called the local stations to see if anything like that was possible. I was told that I could take courses to become certified as a pro­ducer on community television.


After several months of intensive work in video production and studio set-up, I completed the requirements and launched "Godtalk," a program designed to build bridges of understanding among people of diverse religious backgrounds and spiritual perspectives. Topics cover a wide array of subjects, such as the equality of women and human sexuality. I interview guests from different religious backgrounds and ask them to share their insights and explore theological differences in nonjudgmental ways. Those participating in our "on-the-air" discussions often express a deep respect of the holy in other people's spiritual traditions and ethical standards.


The more we dialogue with other people, the more we understand them. Wherever we are, we have the ability to respect others and live in harmony with them. This may be as simple as smiling at a stranger, praying with others, or lending a helping hand for those stricken by tragedy. Often it means letting go of our preconceived ideas about people who are from different nations, religions or cultures and being willing to listen and share openly our beliefs and values. It may mean seeing God's truth in other people's beliefs and being willing to dwell together as the family of God in peace, love and justice.


Each of us can do our singular part to make our world a more

loving place. Although we know that we will fail and that others, too, will fall short of this lofty goal, it is not an impossible dream. We can keep on trying to live the golden rule that calls us to love God and neighbor-even that neighbor on the other side of the globe. As we reach out to our global family, we can be assured that God dwells among us and continues to draw us nearer to one another, even in the midst of our conflicts and misunderstandings. Each time we strive to love our neighbors and do good to them, this God-dream of world harmony becomes more of a reality for all of us. When we join together to work for justice and equality, we can change laws and institutions. We will know, not only in our heads but also in our hearts, thait is, indeed, good and pleasant for God's people to live together in unity.



DAY  1

Dream of a world without discrimination  where we live in unity. Imagine the world as a sacred community where all dwell in harmony, justice and peace. Become aware of God present in other nations, ethnic groups, religions, political camps, and those different from you in any way. Join a group working for this vision and invest your time, treasure and talent to promote harmony and unity in diversity. 


DAY 2

Make this your prayer today:


Thank you, God, for my (name your ethnic background) heri­

tage.

Thank you, God, for my experiences of living in peace with (name individuals or groups).

Thank you, God, for the opportunity to travel and experience different nations, cultures, values.

Thank you, God, for the opportunity to work with (name  indi­

viduals, groups or organizations).

Thank you, God, for these challenges (name those areas in which you need to be more open and receptive).

DAY 3

Contemplate God beyond all religions and creeds. Contemplate God present in all religions and creeds. Contemplate God present in a group, community, sect or nation that you would like to understand better.

What is God telling you to do?


DAY 4

Conduct a dialogue with God about how you can build bridges of understanding with people in your local area who are in need of respect and support. Does God have a special plan that you can implement?


DAY S

Draw, paint, write, sing or dance your dream of  the beloved community where love and harmony are growing and evolving in our world.  Make this your prayer today.


DAY 6

Reflect on the following insights:


Our neighborhoods are holy. Our towns are holy.

Our cities are holy. Our world is holy.

Experience the Holy One in these places today. Everywhere you go, every person you meet, be aware that you are encountering the

God-Presence, especially in those who are hurting, lonely or abandoned. Act respectfully and kindly toward everyone you meet. Affirm that it is, indeed, good and pleasant for God's people to dwell together in unity.


DAY 7

Make this your prayer today:


God of Unity, may I say 'yes" to you each time you call me:

to open the door of my heart to friends, neighbors and strangers,

to listen to other people's stories,

to respect other people's ideas and values,

to ask others for forgiveness for my failures,

to extend forgiveness to those who have hurt me, to share my gifts with those in need,

to embrace everyone as family.



BMM

(Adapted from A Promise of Presence by Bridget Mary Meehan and Regina Madonna Oliver)

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