The smell of smoke still clings to my shoes, to my hat sitting in the back seat. The images from last weekend’s St. Crispin’s Cookoff loom in my mind. Initially, this was to be a fundraiser for St. C’s—something to aid in buying ‘stuff’ for new buildings; what it became has overwhelmed my wildest imaginations.
Of the images mentioned above, I see five men playing a frisbee version of horseshoes; I see four others joyfully arguing over the rules of cornhole; there are two people on the fringe speaking their hearts; there are teams interwoven in conversation; there are children running, laughing, and playing without the aid of technology. I’m witnessing God’s kingdom in action—the true community which Christ intended; people loving their neighbor as themselves.
Too often, we are competitive in life. We compete for money, attention, glory, pride. We compete with agendas. We compete when we don’t really need to; sometimes our competitive nature shoves the communal nature aside in order to satisfy our immediate needs. As I watched these people come together to compete in a food showdown, I noticed how deeply they connected prior to the judgment day. I witnessed relationship take place of division—the teams still wanted to win, sure, but they were more concerned with connecting than ‘winning’. This is what church looks like to me; this is what I desire for our community, for our world.
Can you imagine a world free from agenda? Okay, maybe that’s a little too idealistic. Maybe this instead: Can you imagine a world with very little agenda? With our competitive nature constantly overwhelming our better sense, life becomes difficult—well, more difficult—and often unwieldy. We have elections to win. We have arguments to win. We have competitions to win.
Win. Win. Win.
If we take our agendas and shove them to the side, allowing space for grace to reside in their stead, the face of the world has the chance to look more like the face of God and less like a mask of hatred, of the drama mask intimating our fake laughter or real tears. We’re approaching another season of potential division; a season wherein pride will overcome righteous desire and we will become lesser because of it. Whatever our leanings, whatever our penultimate desires, we would do well to remember that we have more in common than that which divides us. It may read trite—but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true. This week, this season of life, look for the ways in which to play, to pray, and to simply ‘be’ with your neighbor. If we can remember that it’s in His name we pray, in His name we play, perhaps it can be in His name that we stay…connected…loving…and unified into the beloved community He so longs for us to be.