In­creas­ing aware­ness of our com­mon hu­man­ity

Austin American-Statesman - - AUSTIN360 DAILY - Joseph Moore The Rev.joseph Moore is pas­tor at Cen­tral Pres­by­te­rian Church. He’s also a hus­band and the proud fa­ther of Micah and Liam. Do­ing Good To­gether is or­ga­nized by In­ter­faith Ac­tion of Cen­tral Texas, in­ter­faith­texas.org.

prac­tice, any law, any re­li­gious guide­line that we use to sep­a­rate our­selves from one an­other. Je­sus was a faith­ful Jew and fol­lowed the To­rah, but he also seemed to care lit­tle for hu­man author­ity. He seemed to dis­re­gard those made-up rules that served to set up a hi­er­ar­chy of right­eous­ness. He ate with whomever he wanted, he healed peo­ple when­ever and wher­ever he felt it to be ap­pro­pri­ate. He drank with out­casts and par­tied with pros­ti­tutes. He just didn’t seem to be that con­cerned with out­ward signs of pu­rity. He also be­lieved that no one ... no one ... was any more or less de­filed than any­one else.

Some of us think we’re bet­ter than oth­ers be­cause we eat only nat­u­ral, lo­cally grown food, or be­cause we live in an ex­cep­tional na­tion, or be­cause of the ed­u­cated way in which we read the Bi­ble. We self-righ­teously ques­tion, or even avoid, any­one we might con­sider less pure than we are.

We can make this about hand wash­ing and tra­di­tion and laws, but it’s really about how we view one an­other. It’s about an in­creas­ing aware­ness of our com­mon hu­man­ity and an in­creas­ing open­ness to one an­other.

You might re­call the com­mence­ment speech that went vi­ral on the In­ter­net last spring. It was a speech given by David McCul­lough Jr., a high school English teacher who, early in the speech, told grad­u­ates at Welles­ley High School in Mas­sachusetts, “You are not spe­cial. You are not ex­cep­tional.” Th­ese were harsh words to newly minted grad­u­ates, but many com­mented as to how free­ing they felt the the speech was. What a gift to let grad­u­ates know that there was noth­ing wrong with be­ing com­mon; that they didn’t have to sep­a­rate them­selves from the rest of the herd.

“You’re not spe­cial,” he con­cluded, “be­cause ev­ery­one is.” If that’s not the Gospel truth I don’t know what else is.

When we serve Com­mu­nion at Cen­tral Pres­by­te­rian Church, all are in­vited to come for­ward to re­ceive a lit­tle bread and a lit­tle juice. It’s a com­mon meal. Your hands don’t have to be washed (don’t worry; ev­ery­one who serves the bread will wash their hands — you see, not all tra­di­tion is bad). But you, each and ev­ery one of you, are in­vited to come for­ward and eat ... just as you are.

All are in­vited to come for­ward and re­mem­ber th­ese words from the Jewish Tal­mud that tells us that we should each wear a coat with two pock­ets. The rab­bis say, “In one pocket carry a note that reads, ‘I am but dust and ashes.’” And in the other pocket the rab­bis tell us to carry a note that reads, “For me, the uni­verse was cre­ated.”

Come for­ward, eat, re­mem­ber who you are, and who we all are, and then leave, and by all means don’t be afraid to get your hands a lit­tle dirty.

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