2 Conduct yourselves with all humility, gentleness, and patience. Accept each other with love, 3 and make an effort to preserve the unity of the Spirit with the peace that ties you together.
I never flip through the random magazines that end up in my mailbox. They always end up in the recycling bin or in my pile of pinstriping supplies. Only once have I actually opened SJ Magazine and that was because the face of someone I went to high school with was on the cover. I read so much for sermon prep and other vocational tasks that I rarely seek reading for recreation these days, at least not since going to seminary. But I had an annoying amount of time to kill before my meeting: not enough time to complete anything on my to do list, but not little enough time to just sit there. So, I flipped open the SJ Magazine sitting at the top of the days mail.
I flipped right open to an article called, “2 Dads, 1 Book: A story of adoption, tolerance, & love”. It’s all about a same-sex couple and their experience adopting their daughter, deciding to publish a series of children’s books about it, and how they navigate conversations about being a gay couple, with an adopted child and a mixed-race family. If you get this magazine, I recommend reading it, it’s by Felicia L. Niven, and it just oozes love and compassion at every turn.
But I was taken by the use of the word “tolerance” in the title. Never again is the word used in the article, but it can be a touchy word, particularly in our 21st century context. I think that’s because it often comes with a caveat: “I can tolerate that, IF…” but here, that’s not how the word is being used. It’s being used as a steppingstone to love.
When picking scripture to write about, I pull from the book of Ephesians often. It’s a letter that tends to fall in the background to Romans or Galatians, yet I feel as though each line has so much meat on the bone to pick from. Here, we see a plea to love each other, whilst acknowledging that that does not always come easy. Sometimes, what we need is a steppingstone. It’s easy to discern what we don’t like or agree with in other people. It can be hard work to find love amongst those differences.
Why did this article include the word, “tolerance” in the title? Because they were acknowledging that not everyone looks at their family and instantly feels love – which is a shame but is reality. What they seem to find hope in, is when people do pause and express tolerance, ask questions, begin a dialogue, because from there – love can bloom.
by Rachel Callender
For Pondering & Prayer
Since Wesley’s time, Methodists have had a long history of tolerance – of seeking commonality as opposed to opposition. That’s not always what our history has reflected, especially considering the current split in the UMC. Where has tolerance allowed you to pause and get to know someone better? Where has it invited you into discovering where you have commonalities with people you thought were so different from you? Where is God at work?
Prayer: Holy God, You love all with a grace we cannot fully comprehend. May we find glimpses of it when we hear our neighbor, when we listen to the stories of those who’ve lived very different lives than we have. May love grow. Amen.