Jordan Tarwater

The Rev. Jordan Tarwater is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA), currently serving as the Executive Director and Minister of the Urban Outreach Center at Jan Hus Presbyterian Church in New York City.

advent 1 - we've got to have the hard conversations.

In my talk at Dinner Party this past Sunday night, we built on a voiced prayer request for “our fractured political and social climate.” 

There have been few times in my lifetime, at least on such open and festering display, where the division in our shared discourse has felt this draining.

In a conversation this week, I got stuck on this notion of “vulnerability fatigue.” The stress and the strain of injustice after injustice can have you exhausted, even after just a few scrolls through Twitter when you wake up. How we can, as people of faith who care about working with God toward a world that is more loving and compassionate and justice-centered, cope with the onslaught of negative news? 

It’s not easy. And there’s no simple solution, but here’s where our worshiping community landed.

We've got to have the hard conversations in church.

We realized that we are sick and tired of people saying we can't have this conversation or that conversation in the church, because it might make some folks angry or that it wasn’t appropriate for worship or that it might split the church. 

Well, if you can’t have the hard conversations with God, then where can you have them? One friend shouted out, that if your faith can’t have something to say about every part of your life (my folks know Reformed theology), “that means you're not a church!"

And I think that’s spot on! The church, at its best, ought to be a place where people who are building intentional relationships with each other can talk and disagree . . . and still come back together. 

And what that really means is that we can come together and continue to walk together by faith. 

We continue in the start of this Advent season to journey in hope together toward God-sized vision, one that is greater than our own individual brokenness. 

The challenge today is not to mimic the left or the right or the middle, the fixation that our political arena has. 

But that every human has a God-given strength derived from within. That every human in their particularity and experience matters. That every human traces the image of God in our world for us to experience. 

The question is do we really love people enough to disagree and continue.