Pentecost +26 - Year C
Everyone is welcome but the leaders of flocks (congregations, denominations) have not done well with keeping up with the variety of creation that is to be welcomed. The huge temptation is to start and stop with ourselves and those like us. Anyone else is welcome to do their best to meet this impossible mark, but when they don't the body is divided over a non-identity (me and mine, not the wideness of G*D's mercy).
The promise is that new shepherds will be raised up from the outcasts and that their experience of being outcast will mean a special sensitivity to other outcasts and none shall be missing. Well, time and time again, new leaders have claimed mandates, thought their technique universal, and otherwise fallen into the same trap as their predecessors.
This is not claim or theory. Look around. The reality is overwhelming. Another lesson needs to be learned. This is not a rejoicing end of a Church Year passage that lets us rejoice. It is, once again, a call to recognize that we have gone around the circle from divider to outcast to divider with no particular visible gain.
So, if at the end of our year we can't put the words, "The Lord is our righteousness (welcome)", comfortably in our mouths, what do we put there?
Pity a well-intentioned G*D caught with that G*D's image throughout creation, chasing its tail. Pity a well-intentioned creation doubly caught as in a tarnished mirror. Pity us all, the days may yet be surely coming . . . but they surely are not now.
What will need to change in the coming year that we not end up at the same place. Whatever you come up with is what needs practice during Advent and after.