May 31, 2022

From The Rector…

This past weekend, Steve and I felt a need. A need for speed. So, we went to see Top Gun: Maverick and it was everything we hoped it could be. I won’t offer any spoilers in this article though I will tell you that if you haven’t seen the first one, or don’t remember it, it would behoove you to watch it before seeing Top Gun: Maverick.  

I don’t know that I saw a lot of overtly religious glimmers in the movie—though I can’t imagine flying in combat situations without at least a “foxhole” kind of faith. I start praying as soon as I sit down in a 747 and keep praying through take-off and landing and we are not in the remotest danger of having a dog fight in mid-air. There was no real baptism scene and the closest thing to Eucharist was a bar scene. But the entire movie was a work toward redemption through a path of confession and absolution. It was a reminder that when we hold on to our hurts, they burden us and that only through the work of forgiveness and reconciliation can we be free to serve in the ways we are called too in this world.

That theme got me to thinking about my own path in life. The many times I have allowed pride and anger to burden me when forgiveness and reconciliation would have set me free. How many times I have held on to perceived hurt and destroyed my path and the person who hurt me never even had a clue and kept right on living and moving and having their own being without any awareness of my pain and angst. It seems selfish and it is. The selfish one is not the person who caused the harm—most of the time they have no idea they have done anything to wrong another and are quite surprised when they are told about it. No, the selfishness typically lies in the one who was hurt. Not because it’s not ok to get our feelings hurt, but because our response to that pain is a turning inward—a brooding and festering of anger that will blacken our own hearts and turn us away from the purposes of God. When we are hurt by another, rarely do we work toward reconciliation with the other. Instead, we allow the relationship to become broken which is not what God wills for us at all.

Personal pain and resentment are not the only ways in which we hurt one another. We do this as a society as well. Regardless of where you find yourself on the totem pole of class, race, age, etc we have all experienced some sort of discrimination and disgruntlement—albeit some worse than others. When we hold on to that pain, we live in the shadows and refuse to expose it to the light that can bring healing.  

EJI has worked diligently to affect that kind of healing simply through exposure to the light. The museum and monument have power because of the conversation and reframing of history in ways that help people to understand the brokenness and need for reconciliation and redemption. Not because someone needs to be in the wrong or in the right, but because without that work, we cannot move forward in all the other “institutions” that have perpetuated the brokenness—our schools, the criminal justice system, politics, banking, even capitalism. Without the fundamental work of reconciliation, the light cannot shine in the places of darkness, and we will not find ourselves free to grow but instead remain stilted and stagnate.

There was one other Godly parallel for me in the movie. It was the theme of relevance. As a child of the ‘80s and proud member of Gen X—I have often felt my generation to be overlooked and somewhat irrelevant. Though culturally, we contributed a lot to what it means to be American—the block buster movie, HBO, Run DMC, and bedazzling to name a few—we often find ourselves being told that our ideas are outdated, and our usefulness has passed. We are reluctant to step up into positions of leadership though we will if we are asked too. And, generally, we feel a bit underappreciated when it comes to our gifts and skills and what we might offer in any position of responsibility.  

That theme ran throughout the movie—unappreciated, misunderstood, always having to fight for a place at the table or to be taken seriously. It runs through the Bible as well. Many biblical characters are not taken seriously and yet, their purpose is part of the salvific plan of God. We don’t have to be understood to transform the world—we just have to be faithful and keep trying even in the face of opposition and defeat. My generation knows that not everyone gets a trophy—but those who keep trying, who keep fighting are the only ones who might win.

Keep giving one another a chance. Believe in each other. Sure, you are going to experience some pain and suffering and misunderstanding along the way—that is called life. Live it, right into the danger zone.  

Light and Life,