“We find the Good Life at the intersection of love and peace.” Father Ollie opened and closed his sermon last Sunday with this metropolitan image. Love requires a subject and object to be meaningful. Peace, too, is a deeply relational quality. I might feel peaceful when I am by myself, but the test of the quality of my peacefulness is how I relate to others, especially those whom I find difficult. The Good Life can only be realized in community, by working together for the common good.
Last week Vincent Harding, a Civil Rights leader, scholar and lay minister, died. I heard him interviewed on “On Being,” a radio show that explores what living the Good Life might mean through diverse lenses. Upon listening to the calmness of Harding’s voice, the humble way he responded to the host’s questions and his unquenchable curiosity even at age 79, I felt I had encountered someone who regularly hung out at the intersection of love and peace of which Father Ollie spoke.
Indeed, in the interview Harding repeatedly used the phrase “Beloved Community,” popularized in speeches by Dr. Martin Luther King and a paraphrase of the Biblical “Kingdom of Heaven” or “Kingdom of God.” I was struck by his gentle challenge that we stop using the words “minority and majority.” Instead, he suggested that “…we are all now creating a new majority. We are all part of this beloved community. In community, the concept of minority simply doesn’t work. You don’t have a minority in a family. So we have got to get new words, new songs, new possibilities for ourselves.”
St. Peter’s is part of creating these new words and songs. We are part of the Beloved Community that is both revealed and hidden, already and not yet. Through thoughtful worship, conscientious outreach and justice work and listening to one another (as we did at the Sharing our Faith events earlier this month), the intersection of Seventh and Tryon streets might be transformed into the intersection of Love and Peace, a place from which the Good Life, the Resurrected Life, radiates.
— The Reverend Joslyn Ogden Schaefer, Associate Rector