Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family.
So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.
– Hebrews 2:11
The following is a longer version of a well-known Hasidic tale.
I share it with you today as we hear in our Hebrews text that we are unashamedly named by Christ as Christ’s brothers and sisters.
I share it also as we continue in our charge conference season and
hear as a Conference the message of unity, that we are one in Christ:
So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
– Galatians 3:26-29
May we hear and be blessed.
May we see rightly and be God’s blessing.
A rabbi once asked his students:
“How do we know when the night has ended and the day has begun?”
The students thought they grasped the importance of this question.
There are, after all, prayers and rites and rituals that can only be done at nighttime.
And there are prayers and rites and rituals that belong only to the day. So, it is important to know how we can tell when night has ended and day has begun.
So the first and brightest of the students offered an answer:
“Rabbi, when I look out at the fields and I can distinguish between my field and the field of my neighbor, that’s when the night has ended and the day has begun.”
A second student offered his answer:
“Rabbi, when I look from the fields and I see a house, and I can tell that it’s my house and not the house of my neighbor, that’s when the night has ended and the day has begun.”
A third student offered another answer:
“Rabbi, when I see an animal in the distance, and I can tell what kind of animal it is, whether a cow or a horse or a sheep, that’s when the night has ended and the day has begun.”
Then a fourth student offered yet another answer:
“Rabbi, when I see a flower and I can make out the colors of the flower, whether they are red or yellow or blue, that’s when night has ended and day has begun.
Each answer brought a sadder, more severe frown to the rabbi’s face.
Finally, with quiet determination he said,
“No. None of you understands. You only divide. You divide your house from the house of your neighbor, your field from your neighbor’s field, you distinguish one kind of animal from another, you separate one color from all the others. Is that all we can do–dividing, separating, splitting the world into pieces? Isn’t the world broken enough? Isn’t the world split into enough fragments? Is that what Torah is for?
No, my dear students, it’s not that way, not that way at all.”
The shocked students looked into the sad face of their rabbi.
“Then, Rabbi, tell us: How do we know that night has ended
and day has begun?”
The rabbi stared back into the faces of his students, and with a voice suddenly gentle and imploring, he responded:
“When you look into the face of the person who is beside you, and you can see that person is your brother or your sister, then finally the night has ended and the day has begun.”
Brothers and Sisters,
may we hasten the day by seeing others as God sees.
May we know that we are seen with God’s loving eyes of mercy and grace
and seek that same clarity of vision for others.
May we hasten the day by seeing as God sees,
knowing that the differences which distinguish us
are never to be afforded the power to define us or another.
Christ is the only One deserving of that power.
Christ tells us who we are and Whose we are.
Christ unashamedly calls us brother,
Christ unashamedly calls us sister.
May we follow our Savior’s lead and see rightly.
May we see ourselves and others with the eyes of God’s gracious love.
Seeking clarity of vision with you and thankful for you,
If you would like to view past editions of Grace for the Journey, follow this link: https://fairwaydistrictnc.org/category/from-the-ds/