Celebrant: Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?
People: I will, with God’s help.
The first time I heard about Becoming Beloved Community I was attending a diocesan Learning Team meeting to discuss the theme for the next year. I listened to the presentation, described what Beloved Community was for me, and then came to understand what was being asked of us to do: tailor our work to the concept of racial reconciliation. My immediate response was NO. Why would I want to open wounds I’d rather leave closed? Why would I want to keep having the same conversations with worsening results?
As I ignored all calls to participate in this work, last May I was called to help craft the language and materials for The Way of Love: Practices for a Jesus-Centered Life. Turn, Learn, Pray, Worship, Bless, Go, and Rest, these seven practices form a rule of life to help bring you a deeper, fuller spiritual life. In the months since, I’ve learned more about Becoming Beloved Community. As I prayed about delving deeper into the work of racial reconciliation and healing, I could see how the two initiatives depend on each other for success.
Practice anything daily, and you will get better at it – perhaps not the way you expect, but you will see change. Starting with prayer, I chose one Way of Love practice each day for a couple of weeks and then began to add another. Focusing my prayer helped me to discern that I could not let my elders and ancestors down by ignoring the call to the intense work of racial reconciliation.
Through prayer, walking, reading scripture, Eucharist, and more prayer, I’ve embraced the concept of Becoming Beloved Community. Honestly, I don’t want to have challenging and painful conversations. I’m a black woman – my family engages in hard discussions every day. I don’t want to do it with friends, let alone strangers.
But I do want everyone to experience Beloved Community – the place where you feel you can worship God, Jesus, and Spirit in full comfort and freedom of expression. I had that at St. Andrew’s in Evanston. Growing up in that most special place with that most special group of people meant having a family who loved, cared, cheered, supported and disciplined me through my childhood. I want that for everyone.
Presiding Bishop Curry pushes us toward a better life as Sisters and Brothers in Christ with Becoming Beloved Community and he gives us the tools to help us do it with The Way of Love. When our Baptismal Covenant asks you to seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbors as yourself, remember: I will, with God’s help. Please pray for all of us who begin the work of Becoming Beloved Community in earnest. The Way of Love will strengthen you as you prepare to join us.
Miriam McKinney serves as Development Director for Forward Movement and is a member of Calvary, Clifton.