Earlier this week, I met a man who emigrated from Iraq with his family. He explained to me that over there he had a full time job and the ability to support his family, whereas now he is working three jobs and taking night classes just to try to make ends meet. But he came here because this is where his future is, he said. This is where his children can go to school, where they can play outside without fear.
But then he told me another story of another man who came to our city from Iraq. It was winter and the first snow had fallen. It was pretty late at night, but the sight of snow was so new and wondrous that this man left his apartment to look at the snow and take pictures to send to his friends who, like him, had never seen snow. It must have been so beautiful.
Not long after that, a young man from the apartment complex, carrying a rifle and his anger and his unknown baggage, came upon this Iraqi man in the snow and shot and killed him. Just like that.
My new friend held his hands up in the air as he finished telling me the story. It was like he was leaving the question with me: OK, so what world is this? The place of hope and peace or a place of unspeakable and inexplicable tragedy?
Jed spoke this week about our call to love one another, to form ourselves into an intentional community whose vision of the world is centered on the radical, sacrificial love of Jesus Christ. So, yes, this season we are focusing on the Church and how we are called to fit into the body of Christ. But let’s not lose sight of the mission of the Church, which is always to offer a new kingdom, a new world, beyond the seeming senselessness and hopelessness we see.
The cross of Christ means that we are not immune to suffering, that we are not a community set apart from vulnerability or weakness. The resurrection of Christ means that we are not subject to that suffering, but rather find that though sorrow may last for the night, joy comes in the morning. When we live—as a community—with that love, we tell the world a new story, one with a happy ending.