Babel and Westbury

Babel and Westbury

Community service day volunteers make sandwiches in church kitchenToday's passage from Genesis 11 has me thinking about the community in Babel in relation to our community at Westbury UMC.  

In Babel, we find the people working together to accomplish incredible feats--they build a tower that reached to heaven! How far is that? Is heaven really up? I don't know. Nonetheless, the people were united in their mission, which was two-fold: first, they wanted to make a name for themselves, and second, they wanted to avoid being "scattered abroad upon the face of the whole Earth."  

The Message paraphrases: "Let’s make ourselves famous so we won’t be scattered here and there across the Earth." John Wesley, the founder of the movement that would eventually be called "Methodist," observed that neither of their goals were accomplished; we have no names for any of these "Babel-builders," and they indeed ended up scattered after all.

Fast forward to 2014. At Westbury UMC, we find a community where people of many languages, many nations, many cultures, and many backgrounds gather back together, affirming that God delights in our unity--worshiping together, eating together, sharing together, serving together.

While we don't always understand one another perfectly, we are united by our own mission: to make followers of Jesus who transform the community and the world through God's love. Our love of God and neighbor is a shared language, spoken through smiles and hugs, shoulders for crying, hands that show mercy and feet that work for justice.

The sin of Babel was that they used their unity in order to glorify themselves. I think we find grace at Westbury when we allow our diversity--our glorious variety--to glorify God.

What about you? Does the story of Babel ring true in your experience? How, through God's grace, can we be something different?

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