Can Plymouth Church be the answer to Jesus’ prayer?
We are about to find out.
When my friend Allen Hilton was here in September, he reminded us of Jesus’ prayer for all who would become disciples: that they may all be one (John 17:21). As Jesus sees it in John’s Gospel, our unity with one another is a sign to the world that we belong to God.
I believe Plymouth can be the answer to Jesus’ prayer. I believe we can find a deep and powerful unity with one another. But it will not happen apart from our efforts. It will require some courageous conversation.
That is why Allen is coming back in October. He will preach, once again, at all of our weekend worship services (October 12 and 13). And, on Saturday October 12, from 9 a.m. to about 1 pm., he will facilitate something we are calling Friendship in a Purple Church. Allen will help us develop the skills to really listen to one another across our differences. And he will facilitate a Courageous Conversation about friendships in a politically diverse church.
Because here is what we know: partisan political polarization is driving a wedge between friendships. We all know somebody who has lost a friendship because of the deep divide in our nation. And, at least in the short term, it looks like it will get worse before it gets better.
But Plymouth offers a unique opportunity to address the challenge of polarization. Because while we, in many respects, a pretty homogenous congregation, there is one way in which we are undeniably diverse: we are a purple church.
What is a purple church? Well, we talk about red states (Alabama, Utah) and blue states (California, Massachusetts). And a lot of churches are like that. Many times, you can predict how somebody votes based on their church membership. But Plymouth is not like that. When it comes to partisan politics, we have a lot of diversity: Republicans, Democrats, liberals, conservatives all belong to this church, share its covenant and support its work.
So we are positioned to do something almost unheard of in this divisive season: we can build deep and meaningful friendships, across partisan differences, right here at Plymouth. And when we manage to do that, we will become the answer to Jesus’ prayer.
But we have to show up and we have to do the work. So I am asking you to join us on October 12. ESPECIALLY if you have ever felt estranged from another member of this church because of partisan politics. We will gather in Waveland. There will be food and there will be childcare. Nobody is trying to convert anybody to a different point of view. The idea is to learn to relate across our differences and be enriched by the experience.
But the absolutely essential element…is you. I need you to make this a priority. I need your voice in this conversation. Join us on the morning of October 12. Help Plymouth become the answer to Jesus’ prayer.
See you in Waveland Hall?