Our nation is engaged in the selection of our next President, and this “primary” season is one of the most polarized and polarizing that most of us have ever seen. We hear of the clash of opposing beliefs and ideologies, conservative vs. liberal, Democrat vs. Republican. It is reminiscent of another similar season long ago, the time when Jesus came to Jerusalem and the city was rent apart along political, governmental, religious and racial lines.
In such polarizing times, there are three temptations: one temptation is to opt for the “A” group; the second is to choose the “B” group; the third option is to find the nearest fence and sit on it as a cop-out. However, there is, I believe, an alternative to polarity or fence-sitting, and that is to stand in the center.
The resurrection of Jesus is God’s response to polarity, divisiveness, racial and religious enmity. In the resurrection of Jesus, Jesus stands not only in the center: He is the center and invites his followers to stand with him in the center.
To stand in the center that Jesus creates by his resurrection has vast implications for our life. To stand in Jesus’ center is to resist the temptation to retreat into rigidity or fundamentalism as a way of finding safety for ourselves at the expense of others. To stand in Jesus’ center liberates a person for the next step in a life of caring witness rather than seeking the safe corner. To stand in the center created by the resurrection of Jesus is not an easy way out of difficulty; it is the strong way to deal with reality in life. To stand in the center is to proclaim hope over despair, serving others over self-serving, to choose the way of reconciliation rather than division, to proclaim trust in God that God never abandons.
To claim the center that the resurrection of Jesus creates is a profound witness that sets Jesus’ followers free in a way the world neither expects nor can imagine: With God all things are possible. And that is the message of Jesus’ resurrection … straight from the center.
A blessed and joyful Eastertide!
Bishop of Pennsylvania