Showing mercy can be hard work, but seeing the divine in the other should be the mission of the church, argues Anne Sutherland Howard:
Seeing Ourselves in the Other
by Anne Sutherland Howard
"Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy." Matthew 5:7
Mercy makes us look in the mirror. That's been April Blaine's discovery as she has wrestled with these words about the merciful receiving mercy.
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April exudes competence and confidence. Words come quickly and easily to her, as she talks her way through a theological conundrum or a personal challenge. A full-time lay youth pastor and fourth-year seminary student, April is a sharp-witted problem solver, someone who knows how to get things done, and get them done well. She also knows that not everyone is like her.
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In a world marked by fear, suspicion, and war, April wants to see the church teach the world about love. "Our agenda, our program, our practice, should be love—healing, transformative love. Crossing cultural, racial, economic, and national boundaries is daunting," April admits. "We don't want to mess with others who are different. That's hard work. It takes a lot to hear somebody else's story. We don't want to do the hard work. We don't want our lives to change.
"But imagine if we became known as the people who are able to greet the other and say, 'Namaste, the God in me greets the God in you.' Imagine if we could see ourselves in the other. We could change the world."