Bridging the divide
Matthew 11: 16-19 (NRSVA)
16 ‘But to what will I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market-places and calling to one another,
17 “We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;
we wailed, and you did not mourn.”
18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, “He has a demon”; 19 the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, “Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax-collectors and sinners!” Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.’
Maybe it’s time to carefully, and thoughtfully, and slowly, and deliberately, and painstakingly build a bridge…
AND GET OVER IT.
I never get tired of this joke. It punctures the pomposity of the petty squabbles between people splitting hairs. Bridge-building and reconciliation between conflicting groups and individuals is vitally important — of course it is — but sometimes when the arguments get all semantic the point of the bridges can get lost. The purpose of a bridge is to allow travel back and forth across it. What use is an ornamental bridge that can’t bear weight? A bridge allows movement across a gap.
The point is to get over it.
I don’t build a bridge so I can go stand in the middle of it — yell at you and then come back to ‘my side’. The point is to break down the idea of sides at all and allow traffic to flow in between.
This time around reading this passage the phrase ‘get over it’ kept coming to mind. Sadly sometimes when we claim to build bridges we are actually building draw bridges that we can snap upright at the slightest disagreement. I played my pipe and you didn’t dance — up goes the drawbridge. I sang a dirge and you didn’t join — up goes the drawbridge. You were all holier than thou — up goes the drawbridge. You were a glutton and you’d talk to anybody — up goes the drawbridge.
It’s time, I imagine Jesus saying, to lower the drawbridge, to fill in the moat, and to GET OVER IT. Wisdom will be proved right. The harvest is plentiful, labourers are needed. Come.
guide us in the ways of compassion,
of honest and fruitful
conversation and action.