A reflection by Emily Tyler
Vitality. Intergenerational. Intercultural. Transformation. Hope.
These are some of the buzz words that came up during our staff gathering last week. These words surrounded our discussion of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN) and the current situation in our church. While comparing our time together in discussion and reflection with Psalm 36, I could not help but notice the parallel.
“The God-rebel… has no regard for God.… When he’s loose on the streets, nobody’s safe. He plays with fire and doesn’t care who gets burned. / God’s love is meteoric, his loyalty astronomic, his purpose titanic, his verdicts oceanic. Yet in his largeness, nothing gets lost; not a man, not a mouse, slips through the cracks” (Psalm 36:1-6, The Message).
There is a stark contrast here: the terror and destruction in our world and God’s meteoric, all-surpassing love. It’s a lot to take in.
What I find interesting about these verses is the largeness of God’s love—spanning from meteoric to oceanic, and everything in between—and letting no person or animal slip through the cracks. This is professed directly after such evil is described. The enormity of God’s love even covers those who do evil.
In our culture, we are taught that life is a reward that we earn—through doing the right deeds, buying the right things, hanging out with the right people. Psalm 36 suggests otherwise. God’s astronomical love is a gift. It’s just given to us. But this gift of life and of God’s love is sometimes experienced along with great resistance, just as Psalm 36 shares.
It seems natural to pray for our own. We pray for the Chibok girls, our EYN sisters and brothers, and our Muslim sisters and brothers with whom we collaborate. We pray for our families, our church leaders, and those with whom we share in ministry.
But do we pray for Boko Haram? Pray for their mothers and fathers? Do we pray for our enemies and those who mean us harm? They, too, are part of God’s creation. I believe this is an expression of God’s love. Loving even those who “play with fire and don’t care who gets burned.”
As we struggled and engaged in conversation last week, I was filled with great hope. Just as our EYN sisters and brothers move forward through their current struggle, so also do we press on, seeking to express God’s love to all of creation.
Emily Tyler is coordinator of Workcamps and Brethren Volunteer Service Recruitment. Support this and many other ministries of the Church of the Brethren that share God’s love at www.brethren.org/give .
(Read this issue of eBrethren)