Sharing a common cup with the world

This month I begin my tenth year as a regular columnist for the Mercer Island Reporter.

Over the past decade, I have shared personal observations about faith and culture against the backdrop of current events and everyday life. My goal has been to find common ground with a diverse readership that reflects various faith expressions.

Since my first column appeared in July 2005, Mercer Island has continued to become a culturally diverse community. Even as the nations of our planet descended on Brazil this past month, our school district is increasingly multiethnic. With that in mind, finding shared religious and cultural values is at once a challenge and an opportunity.

While watching several World Cup matches over the past four weeks, I have pondered the iconic image of Christ the Redeemer overlooking Rio de Janeiro. With arms extended in a gesture of acceptance, the gigantic statue of Jesus silently welcomes all peoples. It is a beautiful picture: a God who understands the beautiful mosaic of a diverse world defined by distinct colors, languages and cultures. That symbolism invites me and you to strike a similar pose of hospitality and openness.

Taking the time to get to know people who are different than me is the first step in being able to understand them. Making friends with those outside of my circle of friendship not only increases the size of that circle, it reduces the number of strangers in my life.

Whereas there will always be beliefs and values that I hold that others do not share, there is a deep joy that fills my heart when I am celebrating those things I do have in common with another. The degree to which we got caught up in the euphoria surrounding the USA World Cup team is an illustration of that.

Although people in our country are bitterly divided about issues like gun control, immigration, same-sex marriage and the legalization of marijuana, when it came to cheering on our soccer team, we were delightfully united. For a couple weeks, we found ways to put our differences aside and to focus on a goal about which we agreed. The World Cup found us sharing a common cup.

And while the world’s month-long “focus on feet” is over, we still have the opportunity to join hands and put into practice what we learned this past month. It all begins with picturing the statue with the open arms.

The Rev. Greg Asimakoupoulos is the Chaplain at Covenant Shores, Mercer Island.


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