The other night I was privileged to sit with a group of students around a campfire located on our beautiful little farm, outside of New Vienna. We were safely seated and tucked securely under a blanket of love and care.
This was an intimate group whose soul purpose, (most of the time), is to be supportive and caring of one another. It was a night designated to talk about core values of the Quaker Faith. One individual shared a statement I have heard most of my life, but for some reason it resonated within a deeper place in me as we sat quietly around that fire. He stated, “We are our brothers’ keeper, this I know to be true”.
When my young friend said these words a story regarding Mahatma Gandhi was quickly released from my memory. Stanley Jones, a Christian missionary asked Gandhi once why he rejected becoming a follower of Christ?
Gandhi’s reply was, “Oh, I don’t reject Christ. I love Christ. It’s just that so many of you Christians are so unlike Christ.”
This is a hard pill to swallow, but a pill we need to digest if we are going to be able to walk the path that Jesus walked. There is a lot going on around us these days — a lot that is causing divisions that continue to keep us at odds with one another; sometimes leading to hate. I wonder; what are the ways God is calling us to love one another as we live into our own truths?
My husband and I have committed many years of service to loving our neighbor, even when we didn’t like them very much. When we were called to relief work, we never asked people what their politics or faith story was. We simply knew our brothers and sisters had a great need because of a natural disaster, so we went. We took the teachings of Jesus seriously because we believed we were to be about God’s work, and we are our “brother’s and sister’s keepers.”
I know we must each speak our truths, but if that truth goes against the tenets of Christ that I regard as sacred, I will speak up and act on behalf of my “brothers or sisters” who are in need. There is no room in the heart of those who serve Jesus to follow hate groups that spew their vile rhetoric and cause division; that leads to physical and spiritual death. The phrase I am “my brother’s keeper” comes from the story of Cain killing his brother Abel in Genesis 4:9.
Unfortunately, Cain digested the pill of hate and jealousy that manifested into a deep root of bitterness, becoming his brother’s executioner. After Cain murders his brother Abel, God asked him where his brother was? Cain answers with a dismissive remark, “I know not; am I my brother’s keeper?”
God asked this intimate question I believe to reinforce to Cain, yes you were to be your brother’s keeper.
After the students left, I sat around the fire by myself and wept. I wept for my own brokenness and the brokenness of my country. I wept at my lack of courage and asked for strength to stay on the course for equality, social justice and love.
My prayer is for God to hear our prayers and heal our land; but most of all heal our hearts. So that we become sons and daughters who stay the course, and remember, to be our brother’s keeper. Amen
Nancy McCormick is Co-Pastor of Chester Friends and Springfield Friends Meetings.
This weekly column is provided to the News Journal by members of the Wilmington Area Ministerial Association (WAMA).