We approach the 86th Texas Legislative session not as if in a war of all against all, but as members all of the Great World House.
Every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything. (Heb. 3:4) “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who relies on it will never be stricken with panic.” (Isaiah 28:16)
The “World House” or “Worldwide neighborhood”, that symbol used by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in his 1964 Nobel Lecture, represents our growing interdependence and the fact of our interrelatedness. “This,” said King “is the great new problem of [human]kind. We have inherited a big house, a great world house in which we have to live together —black a nd white, Easterners and Westerners, Gentiles and Jews, Catholics and Protestants, Muslim and Hindu, a family unduly separated in ideas, culture and interests, who, because we can never again live without each other, must learn somehow, in this one big world, to live with each other in peace.”
The vision of the “world house” reminds us of our fundamental kinship and commonality, even as it values life in all of its wonderful difference and particularity. It also implies that our life together should be characterized by chesed, that is, by doing justice, loving mercy, and walking humbly with God. (Micah 6:8) The world house is a symbol for the awareness that if there is to be a common ground for the collective good, people of good will must somehow voluntarily cooperate, placing their differences aside for the moment to work together as neighbors, allies, and even friends, towards a common goal.
Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. The world house has mini mansions: the world house prays the church house be thermostatic Root of David; that its Guide, Root and Rule rule out ruly and unRooted guides; that its guiding Gospel rule grant us unruly, rooted peace.
The world house anoints the healing house, so that medicine would recognize the intrinsic worth and value of all life, created in the image of God. The world house asks penance for its poor house; every able body and mind should work, but not everybody, mind you, is able to workfare — we too were once slaves in the “land of Egypt.”
The world house petitions for the work house. Let our consumption not outweigh our production, nor our production consume God’s workers; Let us labor and consume with grace and may acquisitive scarcity pass away — may all be invited to share in the bread of harvest feast.
The world house baptizes the green house, for ecological solidarity, sufficiency, sustainability. The world house blesses those without houses; migrants and the marginal seeking new homes. May they journey with our handed help from liminality to beloved community.
The world house prays for state house, that space of democratic common ground; where the people’s power with raised fists, peace signs, rainbows, and flowers collectively connect with our hardworking elected reps to preserve a state’s weakened power. With libations poured to injustice, may we ascend the Capitol steps from fear and hate to kinship and friendship. When the Capitol doors swing open, let it symbolize our dividers, borders, and barriers come agape. May it be that the inner chambers of the Legislature pulse with God’s own heart for the downtrodden.
And as we go down from the halls of session into the everyday, let us abide under the shadow of the House.
Dr. Asante Todd is assistant professor of Christian ethics at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. Doing Good Together is compiled by Interfaith Action of Central Texas, interfaithtexas.org.