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“Life is sweeter when we journey together”

By Staff | Aug 17, 2018

Interesting trip home from church the other day. I was cutting cross-country to the nearest Walmart on a heavily traveled road.

Just past Jefferson High School, traffic screeched to a halt. People were out of their cars running around in circles. I got out of my car to see if I could help — I’ve been a first responder since my first year of undergrad. Turns out people were trying to catch a Chihuahua that was running around and under cars on the road. After trying to entice the little guy out from under a car, I went back to my car and got two blankets. We put them on either side of the car he was under and caught him.

Almost all of the 30 vehicle owners were patient during the chase, which made me feel good about the day. I drove away so thankful for caring people.

We are all called, whether by our various faith traditions or by common decency, to be kind to one another. We are all members of one human family. All peoples created by a creator God. All nations and communities sharing the same heritage back in the mists of time. And those few genes that make us different in skin color, bone structure and appearance, account for less than one percent of our genetic make up.Yet we focus on our differences so intensely, as if our very worth, our very existence, depended on them.

In my particular place of worship, we use the phrase “extravagant welcome.” To offer hospitality. To accept each other just as we are. To welcome in those not welcomed anywhere else. For us to look past the one percent of DNA making us different, and to embrace the 99 percent making us all brothers and sisters of the same human family.

Hillel the Elder was born, according to tradition, in Babylon around 110 BCE and died circa 10 CE in Jerusalem. Hillel was a Jewish religious leader, one of the most important figures in Jewish history. As a boy, Jesus almost certainly sat at Hillel’s feet as he taught, Hillel’s base being close to Nazareth. Hillel’s “Golden Rule” said, “That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole of Torah; the rest is commentary; go and learn.” This is also the crux of faith.

Author D.B. Harrop wrote, “We must have a hearts big enough to love unconditionally, and minds broad enough to embrace the differences that make each of us unique.” And, I might add, that make each of us precious in the sight of God. It is the task and obligation of faith leaders to guide so the people of God may go forth and be Christ in the world.

Who knows what they might accomplish? Indeed, “Life is sweeter when we journey together.”

Shepherstown Ministerial Association member Rev. Gayle Bach-Watson is the pastor of Christ Reformed United Church of Christ in Shepherdstown. She is also a doctoral student at Hood College in Frederick, Maryland.