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Different Worlds, One Household

November 2, 2020 by Beth A. Richardson

I am writing, knowing that you will be receiving these words on the U.S. Election Day. We find ourselves, these days, in a tsunami of division and polarization. It seems, sometimes, that we in the United States are walking around in parallel worlds, functioning separately from each other. These different worlds have distinctive realities, values, and even facts. People from the different worlds find it difficult to communicate with each other and, often, have stopped trying to do so. 

And, yet, we worship a God who created all things and called them all good. We follow the one who invites us to love both our friends and our enemies. The one who gave us a new commandment, “Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you should love one another” (John 13:34-35).

I have this vision that we are all members of a household created by God. We may not arrive at God’s house using the same pathways; we come into the household through a variety of entrances. But it is the same, loving God, creator of the universe, who opens the doors and welcomes each guest. This household contains a banquet room that seats the entire world. At God’s banquet, everyone has a place at the table and there is plenty of whatever is needed by each guest. At the party in God’s household, guests communicate with each other in a common language—the language called Love. In the household of God, we see each other through the eyes of the Spirit—and we realize that we are more alike than we are different. We are able to see the essence of the Holy One in each person we see. We recognize and acknowledge the belovedness of each person, even those very different from us.

This Household of God feels radical in these times of anger and fear, political division and terrorism. What also feels radical is the spiritual discipline of hospitality—of welcoming the stranger, the outcast, the other. But, more than ever before in history, I believe, we are called to this vision and this ministry by the one who created us and who loves all creation.

And, yet, I confess that I have not had the courage or the knowledge of how to communicate with friends or family members who are walking around in their different world. We very carefully avoid all potential pitfalls that would shine the light on our differences. Sometimes it is like walking on eggshells, or through a minefield. When will something explode?

It feels that we are in a fragile place on this planet of ours—the disease of COVID-19 doesn’t know or care which world we are walking around in. Fires and hurricanes don’t distinguish between those living in a democratic or a republican world. As we face the giant problems threatening our human survival, aren’t we more the same than we are different? 

In these days when I don’t know where to turn, I hope that I turn toward the Holy One, who created each one of us. The Creator of the Universe who calls us all beloved—even those walking around in worlds different from mine. 

During this time of division and discord, we offer these resources:

Beth A. Richardson serves as the director of prayer and worship life and Dean of The Upper Room Chapel. Her forthcoming Upper Room Book is Walking in the Wilderness: Seeking God During Lent.

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I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.” 

View a growing list of resources for the spiritual work of overcoming racism.