Text: Luke 4: 16-21; John 20:20-21
Some of you are familiar with writer Sue Monk Kidd, perhaps through her best-selling novel “The Secret Life of Bees.” She is a wonderful story-teller who writes fiction that is clearly drawn from a deep spiritual well. She’s also a former writer for Guideposts, an inspirational magazine found on the coffee tables of many conservative Christians, including the one in our home when I was growing up. Her ties to the magazine were severed during a painful journey toward a more open theology which she recounts in her poignant book Dance of the Dissident Daughter, published in 1996.
Ms. Kidd’s latest novel is entitled The Invention of Wings. It’s a fictionalized history of the famous Grimke sisters, Sarah and Angelina, who were born in Charleston, South Carolina in the 19th century. Theirs was a slave-owning family, yet the sisters became leading Quaker abolitionists prior to the Civil War. The tale has an “upstairs-downstairs” character like Downton Abbey as the story switches from the privileged Sarah Grimke’s voice to that of Handful, a family slave about Sarah’s age. The book opens with Handful’s description of her mother, a slave of course, whom she calls “Mauma” – M-A-U-M-A. In recounting Mauma’s painfully-acquired wisdom, Handful says this: “Everything she knew came from living on the scarce side of mercy.” On this day when we celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Community of the Cross of Nails, I want to suggest that we cannot truly be reconciling people until we learn some things about “the scarce side of mercy.”