Last week before Holy Week, I read this article from years ago written by Elizabeth Edwards about Tony Snow. It struck me as I moved into Palm Sunday and Holy Week. I couldn’t figure out how to get it into the sermon. It was one of the things left on the office floor or the computer recycle bin, if you would, after the words that “made it” were fit to print. She remarked “And I thought more about the things on which we agree and the things on which we disagree. And as with my parade companion, I suspect Tony and I agreed on more things that we might have guessed.” And then later, “There will always be fault lines where we just disagree, but can’t we find—maybe in our founding documents—the things on which we do agree and work from there instead of starting always, always perched as soldiers along those fault lines?”
Those words wouldn’t let go of me. They are still under foot like a cat wanting to be fed or a puppy wanting to play ever present not going away just when I think they’ve left me alone there they are sticking a paw under the door that is closed or laying quietly in the hall when I open that closed door. Can’t we just start with what we have in common and work from there?
I keep wondering: What if the Scribes and Pharisees and Sadducees had taken that approach? Where would we be? How would our world work if we started with what we share? Instead of what is different?
Somehow I think that might have something to do with the notion of love and discipleship that Jesus spoke of when he said “This is how everyone will know that you are my disciples, when you love one another. Just as I have loved you. You must love one another.”
Maybe that’s what compelled him to keep going knowing what would happen. Maybe he was so committed to the love we have in common he wouldn’t let any difference stop the love. It is a powerful love that can face evil and betrayal with forgiveness. Maybe he never stopped seeing them as someone like himself.
What if we start with what we have in common?
I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. John 13:34-35 NRSV