Embracing communities worldwide + Video

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From the San Francisco 49ers: It Gets BetterAnti-gay bullying advocates are praising the San Francisco 49ers, who became the first NFL team to join the “It Gets Better” campaign in support of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth.

 Mary Baker Eddy, wrote more than 100 years ago: “One infinite God, good, unifies men and nations; constitutes the brotherhood of man; ends wars; fulfils the Scripture, “Love thy neighbor as thyself;’ . . .” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,p. 340).

This, surely, is community life at its best—imbued with vitality and healing. 

                                   

Embracing communities worldwide

Reprinted from the Christian Science Sentinel


                                                                                                    

                                                                                                     

In a recent essay, Stephanie Paulsell of Harvard Divinity School spoke of human beings as “searching creatures, in need of community and care.” She observed, “Surely this is one of the greatest gifts of God to us: that through what we love and what we share, we reach one another in knowable and unknowable ways” (Christian Century, April 4, 2012).

A prolific author who has focused in recent years on the role of community life in healing local and world problems is Yale theology professor Miroslav Volf, whose own upbringing in war-torn Croatia shaped his approach to community in all its forms. He spoke recently in Boston about ways in which people can relate to others of differing views, creeds, or convictions (see Items of Interest, Sentinel, April 30, 2012).

Exclusion and Embrace
Miroslav Volf
Abingdon Press, Nashville
Paperback. 

For me, this book throbs with the spirit of true community. It’s a scholarly work of 336 tightly packed pages and lengthy footnotes, which some readers may find intimidating. But I would hope they don’t miss one of Volf’s key messages, that if the healing word of the gospel is to be heard today, Christian theology must find ways of speaking that address the elements of exclusion and embrace.

Volf says that Christians have to take the bold—even dangerous—step of opening themselves to other people, of enfolding them in the same embrace with which we have all been enfolded by God. Returning yet again to his favorite topic of forgiveness, he labels it “the boundary between exclusion and embrace.” 

When, toward the end, Volf scrutinizes the book of Revelation, his voice rises. In considering the “day of reckoning” he asks whether violence really is to have the last word in human history. And he doesn’t falter: “God can create the world of justice, truth, and peace only by making an end to deception, injustice, and violence.” Volf speaks of an “eternal dance of differences that give themselves to each other in peaceful embrace.” Using italics to make his point, he says, “The end of the world is not violence, but a nonviolent embrace without end.”

How heartening it is to know that such truths are not new. Volf reminds us how far back they go in religious and political history, and Sentinel readers will be especially aware that this magazine’s founder, Mary Baker Eddy, wrote more than 100 years ago: “One infinite God, good, unifies men and nations; constitutes the brotherhood of man; ends wars; fulfils the Scripture, “Love thy neighbor as thyself;’ . . .” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,p. 340).

This, surely, is community life at its best—imbued with vitality and healing.

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