A couple of years ago Desmond Tutu gave a great speech at American University in Washington. I read it again today in some of my preparations for Pentecost Sunday this week. I find Archbishop’s words are always inspiring to me. Here are a couple of the things he shared that day: (These are all direct quotes!)
· Do you know that God has the highest regard for you? For God you are special, with a specialness that is not replicated. You are unique. There isn’t anyone quite like you, not even your identical twin.
· But you, you, you are special to God, and God loves you. God loves you as if you as if you were the only person on earth. Your name is engraved on the palms of God’s hands and God loves you not because you are lovable. But it is fantastic. You don’t have to earn God’s love for you. You are lovable, really, only because God loves you. And God loves you even before you were.
· Now you can believe this about yourself. That you, from all eternity, you have been part of God’s plan. You…You….You…I. And for those who are Christians, Ephesians says, ‘God chose us in Christ to be God’s children before the foundation of the world.’ We didn’t have to do anything. It was given freely and your worth is infinite. You aren’t an after-thought. Isn’t that beautiful?? You aren’t an after-thought. You aren’t an accident. Some of us might look like accidents. But I mean no, no one is an accident. Isn’t it incredible?
· And so God said, ‘I have a dream, I have a dream that my, my children will come to know that they are family. I have a dream. I have a dream that they will recognize there are no outsiders in this family.
· All, all, held in an embrace of love that will not let us go. God gives up on no one. All. All rich, poor; tall, short; substantial, not so substantial; beautiful, not so beautiful; clever, stupid. All, all, all, men, women, children; old, young; white, black, red, yellow.
Every so often another prophet comes along and speaks plainly the truth. Archbishop Tutu is one of those persons. Indeed God has such high regard for us and indeed we are special and indeed God loves us. We all need to be reminded of that fact for a few reasons;
a. We need to be reminded because we are often filled with self loathing and we all have to chase away demons from time to time. It is not uncommon for us common people to feel insecure and inadequate. Desmond Tutu’s words are a powerful reminder that those feeling do not come from a place of light within us as God only desires love and goodness and wholeness for us. God desires for us to understand fully that we are loved – especially when we are hurting.
b. We need to be reminded of this as well because of the way we treat each other. If God has made us all unique, and God has loved us from before our existence, then ought we not to love that which God has divined special, unique, and loveable? This has major implications for how we see those who are ‘different’ from us. It has major implications in a world which has adopted war, terror and segregation as modes of dealing with that which divides us. It has major implications for how we navigate debates about how we can be fully ‘the people of God’ as the church. This sense of openness towards what God has loved into existence should influence how we see the church. Shutting out that which God has loved into existence is simply unacceptable. “There are no outsiders in this family.”
c. We need to be reminded of this message of love and family because God wishes and dreams for us a better way and we have the ability to make it better.
So let us heed the words of this great man and pray today to better accept what God has already ordained. We are loved, we are special, we are God’s own and we are family – all of us.