This past spring my husband and I decided to put a sign in our front yard. It is a sign of welcome to our neighbors, written in English, Spanish, and Arabic. I braced for pushback, but none came. Instead, we have been thanked. We have made new friends. We have gotten a “thumbs up” from a couple of young men from Jordan. We have had happy conversations in Spanish. Our neighborhood turns out to be a place where we remember that all people have their origin in God because God made heaven and earth.
Unfortunately, we often struggle to remember this truth. We make the grave mistake of assuming that the life of faith is about deciding who is in and who is out, who is on our side and who is not.
What if we commit to being on God’s side? What if we decide to love our neighbors as we love God? What if we live out that call in wondrously varied ways? Imagine a society in which embodied compassion is the norm. Imagine choosing to let go of categories of prestige and privilege. Imagine conversa-
tions where we honor the image of God in one another.
Being on God’s side means being friends of God, who has befriended us in Jesus, as we proclaim that everyone comes within Jesus’ saving embrace. Being on God’s side looks like remembering that the Maker of heaven and earth dwells within the cells of every single person and creature on the planet.
In choosing us, God takes the extraordinary risk of hoping we will choose life—not only for ourselves but for our neighbors, our communities, and our earth.
Beloved Friend, lead us to be on your side—the side of compassion and active care. Deliver us from the self-righteous practice of excluding others. Amen.
The Jewish people have faced possible destruction numerous times. The story begins not with the Holocaust in Europe but far back in history during the time of Esther. The wicked Haman plots to wipe out God’s people, but God saves the people through Esther’s courage. The psalmist praises God for this kind of salvation from seemingly impossible circumstances. Although we may not face genocide, we have our own struggles. James encourages us to pray with faith, believing that God can and will answer. Our prayers are powerful, James assures us. Jesus teaches us the importance of letting nothing stand between God and us. Using vivid hyperbole, he admonishes us to put the pursuit of God above everything else and to support others in that same pursuit.
• Read Esther 7:1-6, 9-10; 9:20-22. What traditions extend your memory?
• Read Psalm 124. God created heaven and earth. How do you choose to be on God’s side, the side of creation?
• Read James 5:13-20. When has God’s abiding presence allowed you to experience some sense of cheer despite your suffering?
• Read Mark 9:38-50. Whoever is not against you is for you. How can you share God’s love with those outside your inner circle?
Respond by posting a prayer.