Years and years ago, I had the opportunity to visit the Jelly Belly factory in California. It was amazing to see how they were produced from start to finish. At the end of the tour I was able to sample the many different flavors, some of which I’ve never seen in stores. For example, I tried rotten egg and soap flavored jelly beans. Yep, they were just as nasty as you would expect them to be. But there were some that I really, really liked. Some of my favorites were Krispy Kreme Doughnut, Granny Smith sour and tropical tangerine. There in the tasting room, with people from all walks of life, we sampled many beans. It was interesting how we all had very different tastes, likes, and dislikes. I would place a bean in my mouth and quickly spit it out, while the person next to me would quickly ask for another. Overall, a simple trip to the Jelly Belly factory opens your eyes to how different we are in this world.
As we move into the summer months, our readings will be from the Epistles. After Pentecost, the early church expands into new places with new people and cultures. They all have different customs and traditions. We will hear about places with strong Jewish roots and others that do not bring those traditions to the table. In other words, they don’t agree on the same flavor of beans. This causes some conflict in the church and moves writers, like Paul, to address the situation of unity.
The same holds true in the church of 2021. We don’t all like the same flavor of Jelly Beans. This is true of hymnody, liturgy, and ministry. And yet, the Gospel calls us to be one. This means that even though we may not agree on everything the church does, we can agree on what the church is called to be in this world. Jesus commands us to love one another. Jesus tells us to pray. Jesus tells us to go out and baptize. Jesus tells us to share a meal of forgiveness. As our world begins the process of getting back to “normal”, I pray that we rediscover what we are called to be as the church in the world. As we stand side by side, with all of our differences, may we find common ground in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
In God’s Peace,