June 2022

Living Into Our Sacred, Divine Diversity

I grew up in an immigrant neighborhood of Cleveland called Slavic Village. My grandparents on my father’s side immigrated from Czechoslovakia before the second world war.

The various immigrant groups clustered in neighborhoods, each with their own family-run restaurants, taverns, bakeries, businesses, and churches. Their clothes, food, music, and customs were very similar.

To me, they were far more alike than different. Yes, they had their own types of sausages and polkas, but they were all sausages and polkas. And you could enjoy all of them!

That’s not how many of the immigrants saw it. I regularly heard slurs for people of a different nationality or ethnic group, and slurs for people of a different religion or race.

They fixated on small differences and ignored what they had in common. Diversity made them uncomfortable.

We discussed Trinity this past Sunday, a theological construct that reminds us there is diversity within the divine nature itself — different expressions of God grounded in loving relationship.

Our faith teaches that diversity and loving relationship are the starting point for everything.

The beautiful, poetic creation stories describe God making not one of anything, but countless different versions of everything and calling it all very good. Diversity is what God is all about! We, too, are made in that diverse image and likeness.

Our diversity is a blessing that leads us into the heart and Spirit of our diverse Creator. We recognize God’s diverse nature in our own.

Lutheran pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber compares us to pieces of a puzzle.

“Individually we have such snaggled edges, such unique contours, but that shouldn’t keep us away from others since those rough parts are meant to be fitted together,” she writes. “After all, the odd, jagged parts of ourselves are what connects us to each other and to God.”

Our diversity connects us in mutuality and loving relationship. It’s up to us to recognize and to live within this deep truth of how we are made to be. We have a model for this type of relationship.

In Trinitarian relationship, there is no fear, no insecurity, no competition, no superiority, no acrimony, no misunderstanding, no division, no rejection, no self-importance, no greed, no power plays. There is only love.

This is the model for our relationships. Although we can’t have the same depth of love – not in this phase of life, anyway – our life’s work is to grow more deeply into such relationship.

Sadly, we see the opposite in so much of our world. Fearful people depict our God-given diversity not as a blessing but as a reason to wage crusades, inquisitions, and culture wars.

When we reject someone because they are different from us in some way, we are rejecting the God who made them in the diverse, divine image. Our faith challenges us to build relationships that bridge our world’s sacrilegious and sinful lines of division. To show a different way.

We’re all made from the same stuff – the same molecules, the same love — formed and expressed in so many beautiful and divinely inspired ways. Our diversity is a doorway into divine creativity.

May we link hands and invite others to walk this path with us, the one that leads us deeper into the heart and Spirit of our incredibly creative and inclusively loving God.

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