From the Diversity Team: Jesus Knows Best

Wednesday, October 30

10-30By Nanette Chun-Ming Ward of Ashland, Missouri, USA

So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God,

—Ephesians 2:17–19

As a child living in Hawaii in the 1960s, I watched Father Knows Best on television. This classic American family comedy series was about loving parents and their three children. Kathy, the daughter about my age, always (in my memory) wore a dress, socks, and shoes. She didn’t look like me, a girl of Chinese ancestry, and she didn’t dress like me—shorts, shirt, and slippers were my typical island wear. Most characters on popular shows didn’t look like me because they were white, like the Father Knows Best family.

One day after watching the show, I wanted to be like Kathy. So, I put on a dress, socks, and Sunday shoes, and went outside to play. My mom spotted me in the front yard and immediately called me back in to change. I remember feeling embarrassed.

Years later I recognized my need to mirror Kathy was about cultural identity. I was out of sync with the dominant white culture presented to me on TV, a powerful, influencing medium then and now. I wanted to be different. That, in my young mind, was somehow better. After all, Chinese people on TV then were bucktoothed, spoke broken English, wore drab clothes, and were low-paid workers. However trying not to be who I truly was didn’t feel right. I was neither Kathy nor the Chinese worker. I was Nanette Chun-Ming, living a great life as a kid in Hawaii with a loving family that looked like me. I had my own identity.

I am grateful that my parents and my church family loved me, and others, in all the beauty of our diversity. They assured me in my early years that Jesus loves all the little children of the world, just as the song says. I am also grateful for the lesson from that childhood experience. The lesson is to be alert and sensitive to those who feel different in any way. It is important to not only confirm their worth and affirm Jesus’ love for them, but to recognize and make room for their offerings of love and service to others.

Prayer for Peace
Loving God, we come as your unique children, knowing we are loved for our diverse characteristics and gifts. Help us use our varied abilities to share the peace of Christ.

Spiritual Practice: Welcoming Unity in Diversity
Meditate on Unity in Diversity. Create a large circle with your arms. See and feel the diverse people God invites inside the sanctuary of Christ’s peace represented by this circle.

Who is easiest to welcome? Whom do you struggle to include? Confess the dividing walls between you and people too different or “dangerous” to invite into your spiritual home. Ask God to forgive and heal barriers that keep us from loving one another.

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will be myself, knowing I am loved by you just as I am.

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1 Comment

  1. Vera Entwistle

     /  30 October 2013

    What a great reminder that for us came at a time when we are befriending a new family in our neighborhood who are from Africa. The sensitivity of children to their surroundings is a good wake up call. Thanks for sharing!

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