In celebration of diversity

Today, I celebrate diversity.  My church has been wrestling in an intense process for a week (and for many years before that, through numerous conversations and processes), regarding “a diversity of religious beliefs and ethical understandings” that are held amongst its members.

We have determined that “the Church is able to accept this diversity within its life and make the decisions necessary to enable its ministry and members to act with integrity in accordance with their beliefs”.

This affirmation of diversity is strategically significant. It speaks of who we are—as people of the church, and as people in the wider society in which we live.

So today, I celebrate diversity.

I celebrate the four primary colours that I see in the world—red and green yellow and blue—striking, bold, vibrant, distinct, yet each contributing to the tones and hues of life.

I rejoice in the rainbow of colours from red to green to violet, a gleeful display in the sky as well as in the trees, rocks, and soil around me, in streams, rivers, and oceans. That rainbow spectrum is integral to our common life as creatures on this earth. My own religious tradition shares with other religious traditions a valuing of the rainbow as a potent symbol of divine care for the creation.

I delight in the widely-spreading palette of numerous shades and tints and hues in our colourful world. These shades and tints and hues provide the magnificent and enriching range of colours evident in our world.

I celebrate diversity!

How I love the wonder of melody, notes making their way in predictable, surprising or challenging pathways.

How I enjoy the surge of harmonies, blending contrasting sounds, synthesising varied tones, discord resolving into concord, overtones and harmonics providing subtle intricacies and abundant delight.

Yes, even after years of hard slog and practices, I celebrate scales and appreciate arpeggios, the foundations of good music, each key with its own character and quality.

Of course, I love hearing and offering glissandi—the overturned thumb scampering briskly across the keys, a shower of scintillating sound (designed to awaken even the deepest-slumbering congregation!)

I celebrate the sounds of voice and woodwind, of brass and percussion, of strings and synthesisers and keyboards.

All of these elements, diverse and varied, combine in various ways, to create wonderful, soul-nourishing, heart-warming, music!

I celebrate diversity!

When I stand outdoors in the evening, in the shimmering light of the moon, and look far, far out into the distance, I see a glittering array of shining lights, far beyond our own solar system, planets and stars sending streams of light from so far, far away. Each one is different, yet together they co-operate to form the galaxy, the universe, the whole wondrous cosmos.

When I stand outdoors in the morning, and bathe in the warmth of the rising sun, I look around me, and see the shades of green in the leaves of trees and plants near to me. Each green is different: strong, vibrant greens; subtle, delicate greens; sage green and olive green, emerald and seaweed and teal greens, the green of mint and the green of Granny Smith apples.

When I wander through the countryside, placing my feet one after another on the earth beneath me, I can find myself walking on dark red soil, or on sandy white soil, on heavily-compacted brown clay, or on thickly-packed peaty soil. Each soil is different, and together they provide the terra firma on which all the land-based creatures of our world live.

I celebrate diversity!

I stand in awe as I observe the diversity of people’s skin colouring, ranging from pale to dark, pure and mottled, smooth and wrinkled, an amazing display of our diverse manifestations of the one way of being can be seen and known. We are all human beings, whatever the colour of our skin.

And I rejoice to encounter, and learn from, the wide offering of customs from people’s cultures and traditions, developing my understandings of manners, of ways of relating to others in community, of ways of making decisions, of patterns of behaving and belonging. We have much to learn from one another. We enrich one another through our differences

How I appreciate the language of my heart, taught to me from early years as an infant, spoken as child and adult, which I read and enjoy in many ways, travelling with me all of my life, with its subtleties, intricacies, and complexities.

And I enjoy listening to the languages I hear in my neighbourhood, dancing across a range of tones and expressions. As the years go on, there are more of such languages being spoken around me. How I relish this linguistic diversification!

I acknowledge and appreciate and celebrate the language of the First People who have cared for the land on which I live and work, with its distinctive sounds and deeply-earthed resonances, shaped by millennia of nurturing the land and water. These languages are integral to the people that we are and have become on this continent.

I listen to and struggle with languages I encounter in other places, on other continents, with their array of sounds which are both sharply strange and reassuringly comforting. This wide array of languages is an amazing gift to human beings.

I celebrate diversity!

Diversity is not a binary matter … it is a spectrum, with positions all along the way (and beyond on each side). We see signs of diversity all around us in the world.

And diversity is integral to the creative, regenerative, reconciling work that we undertake in our mission as the church, called and sent to serve as messengers of the good news, sharing God’s abundant grace and liberating hope.

So, I celebrate diversity!!

Author: John T Squires

My name is John Squires. I live in the Australian Capital Territory. I have been an active participant in the Uniting Church in Australia (UCA) since it was formed in 1977, and was ordained as a Minister of the Word in this church in 1980. I have served in rural, regional, and urban congregations and as a Presbytery Resource Minister and Intentional Interim Minister. For two decades I taught Biblical Studies at a theological college and most recently I was Director of Education and Formation and Principal of the Perth Theological Hall. I've studied the scriptures in depth; I hold a number of degrees, including a PhD in early Christian literature. I am committed to providing the best opportunities for education within the church, so that people can hold to an informed faith, which is how the UCA Basis of Union describes it. This blog is one contribution to that ongoing task.

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