If You Know Where Your Home Is – A Crossing Guard Reports

Note: Next Tuesday, Nov. 14, Ed Chasteen will be honored at the Greater KC Interfaith Council’s Table of Faiths Luncheon for his decades-long effort to bridge cultural and religious divides in our city. In recognition of this honor, KC Olive Branch asked Ed to submit an article that explains what has motivated his work. He offered us this beautiful sermon which he gave recently at his home church, 2nd Baptist in Liberty. For more on Ed, go here.

By Ed Chasteen

Billy Yellow is a Navajo holy man. Every morning he rises before dawn and runs for miles through the Arizona desert to a high point where he sits and chants the world into existence. As he finishes, the sun comes up and a new day begins. Billy Yellow says, “If you know where your home is, you know everything.”

I know where my home is. My home is in the intersection. My high school stood at a four-way corner. My principal called me into his office one day. He handed me an armband and a sign. “Young man,” he said, “I want you to be our crossing guard. At lunch and after school, you will help our students cross the street safely.” To be trusted with the lives of my friends was a sobering responsibility. I have never felt a greater sense of duty.

Until that Wednesday evening in 1983. That night my church—Second Baptist Church, Liberty, MO—appointed me Ambassador to Other Communities of Faith. I was a crossing guard again.

I stand in the intersection again to help my friends. No high school friends now. These are folks I have met along the way: Red and yellow, black, brown and white; Christian, Buddhist and Jew; Hindu, Baha’i and Muslim, too. All of these and still more are precious in my sight.

My mother had me in church before I was old enough to protest. Something took hold of me early on, and I’ve been in the church ever since. I find peace and purpose here. I also find a powerful urging to spend much of my time in other places, among people of other faiths. I must tell you that I find God in all these places and in all these people. Early in my life I learned that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, born of a virgin. He came to save me from my sin and died to redeem me from guilt. He was crucified and rose on the third day and ascended into heaven. By trusting in Him I have eternal life.

I learned this when I was young. Now that I am old, I believe it still. Because I believe it, I also believe that Jesus wants me to love everybody just as he loves me. And I do mean everybody.

I go to other churches, to synagogues and mosques and masjids and temples and gudwaras and sweat lodges and other places of worship. And I find God. When I go to these places, I go with three understandings which I make known to those I visit. I do not come to change you. I do not come to join you. I come to know and to be known.

I come to be a crossing guard. As all of us in our separate faiths move about the world we need crossing guards to help us avoid landmines. I have learned that who’s right is the wrong question until we know one another. To ask too early is a landmine.

My first request when I meet folks of other faiths: “Tell me about your childhood.” Then I listen. Talking about our childhoods gets us safely though that first intersection. There will be others. But none of them will look so threatening now that we know one another’s childhoods. When we come to the faith intersection, there still will be tension. Faith is the fuel that drives our lives. It is precious to us and we guard it carefully.

My faith in Jesus drives me to make friends of everyone I meet and to meet everyone I can. My faith blinds me to skin color and makes me deaf to those who preach religious division and exclusion. I see the world as it could be and work to make it so. To those who call me naïve, I say thank you. I mean to be. The world I see is over run with realists. I live to keep alive that slim hope that just maybe we can all live in peace and harmony and heaven can really come on earth.

If my dream is impossible, so be it. It is mine. It gets me up in the morning. It keeps me focused on bigger things than my own problems. If I ask too much, I do it for all of us. I see places we’ve never been. I long for us to be rich in ways that have nothing to do with money. Peace, power, purpose and joy I wish for us night and day. And I work in every way I know to make it so.

How fitting that my church sits on a four-way intersection. Just like my high school where I first became a crossing guard. Now as your Ambassador to Other Communities of Faith, I take my place in the intersection to help all parties move safely back and fourth across the street.

I am humbled and deeply touched to know that my church, the people who know me best, chose me to be your Ambassador to Other Communities of Faith. I will not disappoint you. I promise I will stand in the intersection between faiths. I will help us all safely across the street.

Because I know where my home is, I know everything. Everything that matters. I’m a Christian. A Baptist. An Ambassador to Other Communities of Faith. A crossing guard. My first tour of duty ended when I graduated high school into the world of adults. My second duty ends when I graduate this life into what lies beyond.

I will be contacting you by email and snail mail before long with an idea I have for a virtual community of believers, where we all become somebody else for a while, even as we come to know ourselves better. Stay tuned. And sign on. A glorious adventure awaits. The world will be watching what we do. All who see and hear will draw encouragement and inspiration. I believe God made us for this world so we could make this world a loving place. We haven’t exactly aced the test God gives. We can do better.

I leave you with 10 two-letter words that say all we need to know: IF IT IS TO BE, IT IS UP TO ME.

Write it down. Believe it. Live it.

May God bless us all.

Return to http://www.kcolivebranch.org/

 

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1 Comment »

  1. Melinda Smith said

    Thank you, Ed, for sharing this wonderful sermon with me. Raised in a faith-filled Methodist home and then converting to Catholicism 7 years into my marriage, I have always sensed that I am to be a “bridge” between faiths. I know that I am home with fellow followers of Jesus but I also love to meet God in every person who is not a follower of Jesus. Thank you for touching my life today.

    Melinda Smith

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