The Recorder – Faith Matters: “You Must Be Thoroughly Taught”
(Each Saturday, a religious leader offers a personal perspective in this space. To be part of this series, email [email protected])
It is mid-October, and we are still in the “back to school” season after a long pandemic period of being in school and also “being in church” from home.
Will our schools, churches and other public buildings be closed again this fall or winter? We do not know. What we do know is that whether we are “back to school” or “back to church” or not, we are receiving important teachings that we all need.
I remember a song about teaching from the musical “South Pacific”. I heard this song when I was in high school and it touched my heart and my mind. The song itself is from 1959. The most famous line is this: “You have to learn to hate and fear, you have to be taught from year to year.” It must be drummed in your dear little ear. You must be carefully taught. You must be educated.
The teaching in question concerns racism. People “whose skin is of a different shade”. What teaching; yesterday and today, this racism and all other forms of discrimination and “otherness” do not come naturally! You have to teach it. And it’s. On social networks. In schools. In the houses. In churches. In daily and less daily encounters, we are taught to hate.
Because it’s true, we have to be taught something else. We must learn to love. Yesterday and now and I believe forever. This hate agenda was “on the books” long before 1959.
Last year I read a blog about churches called to be schools of love. We need each other and this alternative education. We must become schools of love.
The author, Reverend Cameron Trimble, talks about communities of faith that are not based on fear or hate. She calls us all to create and actively participate in these schools of love and others. I am paraphrasing his words here. The parentheses are mine.
Congregations (can) create a space of wonder and wonder. Not a place to understand and control all things / people, but a place for awe and wonder.
Congregations (can) call for vulnerability and to show ourselves fully. We are not showing a perfect picture. We come, sometimes exhausted and often broken and in need. We come risking to be seen and hoping to be transformed. Transformation is moving at the speed of trust.
Congregations (can) create a context for a deep social bond. Just as Jesus’ disciples were first called as individuals, so are we. And yet, they quickly became a group. (A school, maybe?)
Cameron says it’s time to expand our awareness of who belongs and how they belong. In this new moment in human history, we need a conversation that courageously goes beyond questions of musical styles or language. We need to thoroughly rethink what we want to create in the world. What future are we shaping together?
As I look around at the faces of the people who were able to come back to church in person, wearing masks and practicing physical distancing – I am grateful to be a part of this alternative education where we can show up and be seen and loved and transformed.
We come, as we are, and we are loved to become what God and our neighbors need us to be. Something beautiful. Something real. Something love.
If what you see in the world doesn’t look, smell and sound of love, there is something wrong and you need to rethink your teachers and the teachings. Because it is true that just as we must learn to hate, we must also be carefully taught to be students of love.
It’s time to go back to school.
Trinity Church is located at 17 Severance Street in Shelburne Falls. We are a “village church” associated with four denominations: The United Church of Christ, The American Baptist Church, The Episcopal Church, and The United Methodist Church. We are open and supportive to everyone, including LGBTQI people. We meet for Sunday worship at 10 a.m. (daycare provided) and during the pandemic we follow public health protocols. We are the longtime home of West County Community Meal, serving free dinner every Friday night. Currently, we serve the meal outside from 5:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. We also offer a free community wardrobe and welcome other community groups. For more information, call 413-625-2341