Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost, World Communion Sunday October 4, 2015
We Can Talk about It
Divorce is a sensitive subject in many of our communities. Fundamentally, it involves the disruption of a relationship—with many heart-wrenching implications. Though we may be tempted to avoid the topic, how can we witness to God’s active movement in our world, if we allow our insecurities to hide our ministry?
Do you remember the long-running children’s television series Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood? Fred Rogers, an ordained Presbyterian minister, advocated for quality children’s programming that engaged with real issues. In 1981, an episode featured a conversation about divorce.
The neighborhood deliveryman, Mr. McFeely, was reminiscing about his own wedding day. When Mr. Rogers brought up the topic of divorce, Mr. McFeely became nervous and quickly left the conversation. Mr. Rogers said, “Mr. McFeely left so fast—as soon as we started talking about divorce. I guess that’s something he doesn’t like to talk about. It is something that people can talk about, and it’s something important.”
In Mark 10, the Pharisees brought up the topic of divorce. Jesus did not shy away. Instead, he asked for their opinion, and they responded with a legal statement: “Moses said that the man should write a certificate of dismissal.” Jesus replied, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed this. But don’t divorce.” In other words, “You’re not prepared to care for people.”
Today we remember that we are called to be in communion with the multiplicity of people around the world. Like Jesus, we are called to meet people with empathy and grace. How can we be the church, if we are likewise unprepared to meet people where they are? This is the most frequent criticism of the church among young people: that we don’t engage with real issues seriously, and when we do, we react in trivial ways, like the Pharisees. Are our hearts hardened to matters of racism, sexuality, economic inequality, and the environment?
When you eat the bread and drink the cup, remember that God is inviting you into relationship. It is important, and we can talk about it.
James Lavoy, pastor, Rio Terrace Moravian Church, Edmonton, Alberta