Did Holy Week this year seem to shout out for a new dimension of holy dialogue? It did to me. It was an unusual and disruptive week in several ways. It caused me to think about the need for a new depth of dialogue that could best be described as holy.
Holy dialogue is conversation between people of various viewpoints and perspectives seeking to discern what God might be saying to and through each participant in the dialogue. A huge challenge is that God might be saying different things through different people; at least according to their own interpretation. Holy dialogue also seeks to honor one another as persons of worth created in the image of God to live and love. We may discern a different solution to various challenges, but we are holy in our respect for God who is working through all of us to express unconditional love.
Let me be quick to declare that the holy dialogue I am calling for is not new. It has been around since humankind exploded onto this earthly scene. It is just that it seems to be practiced so little on the issues that divide us rather than unite us as Christians.
What happened during Holy Week?
Significant in the United States were the cases being heard by the Supreme Court around gay marriage and the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Probably not since the racial civil rights decade of the 1960s and the abortion decade of the 1970s has a moral issue engendered so much positional debate rather than principled dialogue. Christians of genuine conviction see this issue very different, and it pulls them to the edge of abandoning their perspective on the separation of church and state.
Rhetoric around gun control heated up during Holy Week. Those in favor of various pathways to a short-term fix on gun violence raised the rhetoric to a new level. It is the kind of thing that happens when a debate that divides appears to be coming up for a vote. Many people believe if they shout louder they will get their point across to more people. Perhaps it never occurred to them that the louder we shout the more people sink into the quicksand of their own myopic position.
Simultaneously, during the week where God sacrificed His only Son for all, we still cannot figure out whether or not immigrants into the United States deserve the same opportunity as many of our ancestors. Deals are rumored about some type of comprehensive immigration reform that will provide a pathway to citizenship. The people who declare that they need to be sent home and those who with open arms want to welcome them as equal citizens sit on the same pew during the same church worship service on Easter morning and celebrate the resurrection for all.
For the first time in many peoples’ memory Protestants watched this Holy Week a new type of pope of the Roman Catholic Church show us his character. We were envious in some ways and wish the message of his life could infuse the heart, soul, mind, and strength of many leaders in our congregations. He embodies the missional nature we desire for many Protestant congregants. We need a deeper dimension of dialogue around what it means to live out the mission of God.
In the midst of it all millions worshiped at the altar of March Madness and watched both their favorite teams and the unexpected or unlikely basketball teams compete for the national men’s college basketball championship—at least in NCAA Division 1. The drive to win is such that even the horrendous injury to University of Louisville player Kevin Ware brought forth cries for a win, which a highly talented and super inspired team delivered over my beloved Duke Blue Devils.
The good news in college basketball is that on Monday night, April 8 in Atlanta, the best team on the court that night will win. There will be little room to dispute that during this season culminating game that they were the best and deserve the title of national champion.
On many other issues such as gay marriage, gun control, immigration, and even achievement of a lifestyle that is missional in nature the debate will continue. There may be short-term gains, but there will still be long-term debates. In these situations holy dialogue is needed, and probably will be needed with each succeeding generation of Christians.