July 26, 2020

Adult Bible Study Online

A current connection to each week's session

Wisdom: The Way, Truth, and Life
John 14:1-14

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I saw my mom this week. It had been six months since we were last together. This was the longest time I had been apart from her in my life—a too familiar separation for many of us today. Seeing her made me realize how desperate I had been for her; to touch her, to hear the tones in her voice, to see the texture of her skin, all those untranslatable things lost in our FaceTime calls these last months.

Over our weeklong visit, we played badminton and croquet, hiked in the small hills around our home, mastered a thousand-piece puzzle, reclaimed flowerbeds from the weeds. We joked that we were having a visit that might have been set in 1950, a visit from another era. We were making up for lost time, so we played and talked as if the world outside didn’t exist, as if it were just us.

We pretended until the hour before she began the eight-hour drive from our Pennsylvania farm back home to New Hampshire, and then we remembered the world of COVID-19, presidential tweets, refugee camps, and Black Lives Matter. My mother taught me to be a follower of Jesus, but we live different political and theological lives. But she told me she had almost finished the copy of Invisible Man I had given her when I was in college, and because we now shared that remarkable novel by Ralph Ellison, we began to talk about one of those most divisive topics—racism. We talked about George Floyd alongside the long legacy of enslavement, Jim Crow, the Great Migration of six million black people to the urban North, the structural racism of redlining, and the reality of mass incarceration. And because we live such different political and theological lives, we asked different questions of the world and of each other.

My mother asked, “Do you think racism really is structural?” and “Why was I taught that Dr. King was a dangerous man when I was a kid?”

I asked, “How am I supposed to think about my life knowing it is the result of generations of unearned and undeserved privilege?”

These were hard questions, and we didn’t come to any easy conclusions. The joy was that we talked and we listened, trusting each other.

Gordon Mattias reminds us this week that to “believe in God” (John 14:1) is an act of trust not intellectual assent, that the path is found in the person of Jesus, not in particular doctrines or beliefs. Holding close that hour of sacred conversation with my mother, I find myself asking not only “What does it mean to live trusting in Jesus?” but also “What does it mean to live as a follower of Jesus who wants to trust others, especially those we disagree with politically or theologically?”

I pray for you and for myself that we may seek out sacred encounters with God within the sacred lives and words of God’s people, of all people regardless of race, gender, politics, or belief as those who are made in the image of God.

—Kerry Hasler-Brooks, kerry.hasler.brooks@gmail.com

© 2020

Kerry Hasler-Brooks is a professor of American Literature at Messiah College, Grantham, Pennsylvania. She researches and teaches at the intersections of race, gender, literature, and vocation and has written on diverse American women writers like Harriet Beecher Stowe, Maria Ruiz de Burton, Katherine Anne Porter, Toni Morrison, and Edwidge Danticat. She lives on an organic vegetable farm run by her husband, Nathan; loves to explore in the fields and woods with their two young children; and recently joined the 300-year-old community at Salford Mennonite Church, Harleysville, Pennsylvania, where she is learning to hear and practice anew the call of Jesus to radical peace, love, and welcome.

This article supplements Adult Bible Study, a quarterly Bible curriculum for adults. Adult Bible Study provides in-depth, challenging Bible study from an Anabaptist-Mennonite perspective, written by an intercultural group of pastors, teachers, professors, and leaders across Canada and the United States. Sessions include daily Bible readings, resources for additional study, and free downloadable resources.

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