“Before you can see another person clearly, you’ve got to see yourself better” Tali Hairston

Here’s my second reflection of my experience attending *The Next Church national gathering of Presbyterians in Seattle. If you missed the first post, Who Makes You Better?

It was only a three word sentence—“Insight precedes eyesight”—but these three words from opening speaker, Rev. Tali Hairston, shaped my whole week.

Whether we are trying to work across differences or simply to hear what another person is trying to communicate, we must start with ourselves.

“We interrogate others and affirm ourselves, Jesus did the opposite” Tali Hairston.

The “insight” needed is about our own stories, our culture, the things about ourselves we take for granted, or assume we all agree on.

The “eyesight” gained by “interrogating our culture and ourselves” is learning to see and hear another person’s story and history.

Jesus says something similar in Matthew 7 How we need the insight to see the log in our own eye before seeing the speck in our neighbor’s eye.

Consider all the ways we are divided:

in the church,

in our communities,

in our families,

by culture,

by theology,

by race,

by sexuality,

by politics,

by economics.

The way to connection, belonging, trust, and truly seeing other people, starts with beginning to see yourself. Maybe seeing yourself for the first time. Hearing the stories you’ve told yourself.

This is hard work. Though I think feeling stuck in hatred, indifference, and division is harder.

This is life giving work because I want to see you and hear your story. I want to unpack my story and share it with you too.

Pastor Mike

“Hold fast to what is good. Have Courage”

“Woven Together” was the theme at Next Church, taking the book of Ruth a focus text for the week.

Tali Hairston, from Seattle Presbytery, started the week doing a deep dive on the power of story. Hairston’s point was how we tell a story matters and who gets to tell the story matters.

Tali had a lot of great insight and I encourage you to watch his whole presentation.

You can see the full presentation here.

Here is a 30 minute segment on the ideas specific to this post.

*Next Church is a gathering of Presbyterians focused on the very best of the PCUSA. It is a celebration of our diversity. A chance to explore the unique ways Presbyterian Churches across the country are impacting their communities in unique and imaginative ways.

You can view some of the workshops and presentations at Next Church. The theme for the week was: “WOVEN TOGETHER Stories of Dissonance, Sacrifice, and Liberation.”