I came across the word diaspora in March while reading a morning meditation. I had a general idea of its meaning, but when I looked up its origin and learned it came from the Greek word diaspeirein, to scatter, from dia + speirein to sow, I saw a hopeful metaphor for the many who have left the church of their birth. What if this current massive scattering of the faithful is God’s way of sowing seeds to an eventual ecumenical end where all people will come to respect another’s beliefs, and eventually embrace and care for each other?
In Barbara Brown Taylor’s memoir, “Leaving Church,” she tells of leaving her position as an Episcopal pastor because her desire to be all things to all people, all the time, left her emotionally, physically and spiritually spent. She now teaches religious studies at Piedmont College. From her experience as pastor, Taylor summarized so well what is needed for church today with these words: We needed a different way of being together before God, shaped more like a circle than a pyramid. We needed to ditch the sheep paradigm. We needed to take turns filling in for Jesus, understanding that none of us was equal to the task to which all of us had been called. We needed to share the power. And she asked this great question …might it be time for people of good faith to allow that God’s map is vast, with room on it for both a center and an edge? While the center may be the place where the stories are preserved, the edge is the place where the best of them happen.
Empowerment is another word for “to share power.” When we empower one another everyone benefits. And in the ongoing process of creation, we need new stories to keep God relevant for us. Who would have thought that trusting in the slow work of God could be so comforting?