The Simplicity, Yet Complexity, of God’s Love
By Lynn S. Fry
Christ is the light that allows people to see things in their fullness. The precise and intended effect of such a light is to see Christ everywhere else. In fact, that is my only definition of a true Christian. A mature Christian sees Christ in everything and everyone else. That is a definition that will never fail you, always demand more of you, and you no reasons to fight, exclude, or reject anyone.
Father Richard Rohr from Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation
Lately, my mind keeps coming back to how simple God’s message of loving one another is, and yet how complex we as human beings make it. If we say we love God, place him/her/they first in our lives and we recognize we’re made in God’s image, why do we look for so many ways not to love one another? Why do we draw so many distinctions between human beings and who should be on the receiving end of material and spiritual wealth and who we should restrict from accessing equal rights of many types?
Let’s be clear, I’m not throwing stones at anyone’s house. Personally, I certainly have an abundance of faults, skeletons and sins. I’m just being thoughtful about what I reflect on, experience daily and how we interact with one another.
Recently I had the opportunity to attend an anti-racism and social justice training sponsored by the Lower Susquehanna Synod (LSS) and a Mental Health First Aid training presented by WellSpan Health Philhaven . They had many things in common. Unifying themes were respect for one another; taking the time to listen, connect and build relationship with others and recognize we are all created in God’s image.
My biggest take-aways from the two trainings were recognizing we need to look in the mirror and be open to re-learning history and to redevelop our attitudes and outward expressions in cultivating an inclusion-friendly culture. Developing relationships with others is the primary way we all learn and share civil conversations about sexual orientation, racism, mental health and all other types of inclusion. We need to assume nothing about other’s needs, but model thoughtful conversations. We need to proactively educate ourselves and our congregations around our community demographics and remove barriers, not only the physical ones.
I encourage everyone to participate in an anti-racism and social justice training. Many of our synod’s and partners are sponsoring trainings. LAMPa will post trainings on our web site as we become aware of them. The LSS training was presented and conversations facilitated by Vicar Carla Christopher; the Rev. Timothy Seitz-Brown; and the Rev. Titus Clarke. Resources from this training may be found on the LAMPa website under Issues – Racial Justice.
The Mental Health First Aid Training (8-hour certification) sponsored by WellSpan Philhaven is available throughout the state. Please contact me if you desire additional information. Statistically one in five adults will experience a diagnosable mental disorder in any given year. Even if you are not a trained mental health professional, you can be prepared and know what to do when a mental health crisis happens. Mental Health First Aid is a clinically proven training course that will help you identify, and respond to the signs of mental health difficulties and give you the skills to apply a 5 step action plan to assess a situation and provide help. Participants will receive a nationally recognized course certificate of completion, a Mental Health First Aid manual, listing of local mental health resources and Certification as a Mental Health First Aid Responder.
“ I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
It’s that simple; it’s that complex.
Lynn Fry serves as LAMPa’s Program Director