Categories: Wednesday ripples 2 Comments

Love in a time of Conflict

I find much of my spare mental space going to reflecting on power and the nature of how it is held these days. We seem to be living in a world full of leaders who behave like bullies. The so-called “strong man” approach has meant journalists who speak out are murdered, women who testify regarding their assault are ridiculed, and the common person who asks questions on how they are going to make a living in a globalized world is ignored. If children behaved this way to each other, we would be taking immediate steps to correct that behaviour!

 Jesus lived in a time where power was welded harshly too and it is clear from the Gospels that he was prepared to face that power. But he did it in such an unusual way: not with hatred, not with frustration (though I imagine he felt it!), and not with mockery, but somehow with a kind of fierce conviction and loving demeanour. Jesus kept the lines of communication and relationship open, yet he did not shift or bend to the powerholder’s arguments or way of life. He did not conform to how things “had to be” but held out hope and conviction that God had a better dream for humanity than the one he was living through.

 In my 20s I went to a few Buddhist-inspired meditation retreats, and one of the group leaders placed up photos of unpopular world leaders. They then asked us to direct our most loving thoughts towards them. It nearly turned into a full scale fleeing from the room but quickly it sunk in just how challenging it was to place love alongside hate and discord. So how might we resist the improper use of power, while still practicing Jesus’s unconditional love? There is a balance here of speaking truth to power and still not descending into hatred, ridicule or despair, and of living out passionately a belief that love is able to transform the world. What a remarkable challenge has been put before us!

Rhian

Rhian Walker

Rhian Walker is the Minister of Young Adults and Outreach and brings a love for nurturing the spiritual development of those around her. She is passionate about new expressions of church and believes in the power of spiritual practice and community to transform the suffering in our communities and our world. She has a Masters of Public and Pastoral Leadership from the Vancouver School of Theology, an MA in Philosophy, Religion and Literature from Sussex University and a BA in Philosophy and Creative Writing from UVic. The concept of the open table is at the heart of what she feels is transformative about the United Church along with its commitment to true inclusion. She previously served at the lead minister at the Heartwood Community Café, an LGBTQ social enterprise run by Trinity United, Minister of Outreach and Formation at Lynn Valley United in North Vancouver, and as the Conference Minister for LeaderShift, a professional development program that focuses on the inner and outer skills for leading in the United Church. She is an amateur singer and poet, an average gardener, and is truly, shockingly bad at camping despite growing up on the West Coast. She is married to Brandon Walker and has two young children.

Comments (2)

  1. hi rhian well said!! i think the greatest challenge we have is not the lack of love or the lack of believing love can solve problems or guide us thru difficult times but how love and reality do not mix well. what to do with the reality of 10,000 refugees descending on your doorsteps and some behaving not so meekly? the moment reality kicks in love becomes only a residual sideshow. the story of jesus is profound and does provide us with a best case scenario that he can feed the poor and cure the sick maybe if we have enough love in us we can do the same
    collectively we always fail, individual we may have some success but reality hardly changes its course

  2. “Mourning” … lamenting over this “reality” that has come to be part of the world we live in, today, is indeed a challenge — a dilemma that we face as followers of Jesus the Christ. Perhaps, an expression of the “dislocation” that Walter Brueggemann wrote about in his book “Deep Memory Exuberant Hope.” His insights: “Instead of taking our rage … down the path of brutality, … grief and rage can be addressed to God. … The utterance is not merely catharsis, though it is that. It is also a practice of prayer that is honest and courageous … turning it into an act of faith that may in turn issue into positive energy.” I share your concern and I am praying with you that, yes, may God’s compassion “trickle down” in the form of sensitivity, respect, civility, courage and hope among us.

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