The Rev. Twila Smith
Grace & Mediator, Allentown 

“Why do you pass judgment on your brother or sister? Or you, why do you despise your brother or sister?”
– Romans 14:10

Of course I don’t despise my brothers and sisters … but right now I am judging Paul and those first century Christians. I want to put today’s Epistle in that category of “those people should” fix their problems and get over it, because I don’t want to hear it. Every time Paul’s scolding of the early church nags its way into the readings, I want to sweep it into a broad category of someone else’s issues and declare that “we” have advanced beyond such unruly, fractious behavior. I want to push back.

It hits uncomfortably close to home.

There’s that judgment (yes, even in the church) that turns its despised head to competitive jockeying – for status, money, exemplary programs, the-most-whatever projects, social media fame, fine facilities, scholarly work, finest traditions, mission success, and progress of all sorts. My weary head mostly wonders what I could contribute with time that falls into the dark hole of anxiety-laden comparison.

Pilgrimage beckons us to a non-competitive path. On this way, we travel in a collaborative caravan, with the mission that everyone gets wherever it is we go, no matter how often we pause or re-route to do so. A gift in traveling this way, I have come to believe, is a resonating connection with one another and our non-competitive, Triune God – fully present, always, as we most need.

When I worry less about reaching particular milestones and concern myself more with our common journey, I notice I can move freely, with the outpouring of love we are so freely given:
“God’s Blessing be with you, Christ’s peace be with you, the Spirit’s outpouring be with you, now and always.” [ Celtic blessing, Enriching Our Worship 1 ]