So what is so great about the Great Convergence? As a realtor may say…location, location, location.
That location may be “little ol’ Omaha” where there is an ecumenism of the highest common denominator, i.e. not a dumbing down of the great faiths of Islam, Judaism and Christianity to the few things they can find in common, but a rich sharing of the diverse gifts. One of those gifts is the shared story of Jacob wrestling with the angel. He is in a terrible state worrying about the morning when he is going to have to face the brother whom he had cheated out of his inheritance. The struggle of that night is personified in the mythological imagination in a wrestling match with God. The surprise ending is that the match doesn’t end with the angel getting Jacob in a submission hold for a tap out. Instead, it ends in a draw with Jacob demanding a blessing before releasing the angel. As a lesson about being careful what you ask for (because you might just get it), Jacob is “blessed” with a dislocated hip and a new name. From that fateful moment on, every time he encounters someone he knows (beginning with his own brother) he not only has to explain the limp but also correct them on his new name, Israel, which means “contends with God.” Israel was “blessed” by a constant reminder of the cost of wrestling with God as well as an invitation to continue the wrestling.
That understanding of what makes the Great Convergence so great led the rabbi, Aryeh Azriel, to declare that the location next to the minister was a great place to be wrestling. To which Eric quickly agreed. The Muslim voice, Ani Zonneveld, reminded us that there are no denominations in the Koran, they are all human creations. That is not to say that we abandon all the distinctions that we have lived in our experience of faith, but it most certainly does mean that they are never reasons to exclude, harm or even kill one who practices faith differently. What marvelous gifts we can find when we chose to travel from the places of exclusion to the locations where we can wrestle blessing from God by wrestling with each other’s beliefs and thoughts.
So when God came down to Eden after humanity had filled their bellies with fruit and their heads with the knowledge of good and evil, God asked a question that was surely meant for our information (since by being God, God would have already known the answer), “where are you?” There’s one to ask the person in the mirror. Where are you locating your current contending with God? Are you alone with your thoughts? Are you in the company of those who believe exactly as you do? Or are you finding the greatness of the Great Convergence by going all in and finding the gifts of the highest common denominator?
Rev. Ian Lynch is pastor of First Congregational Church, United Church of Christ in Brimfield, MA. He blogs about the intersection of spirituality and society at CultureDove.blogspot.com and the intersection of spirituality and ornithology at https://birdparables.blogspot.com