If this week has shown us anything, it’s that Boston is strong; Boston Strong.
The question is, which Boston? The immaculately landscaped and socially elite Boston of Harvard, or the threadbare and weatherworn Charlestown? Beacon Hill, home to the wealthy and powerful (like John Kerry), or the significantly less influential Southie? The largely Italian North End, or the majority Hispanic East Boston, or Mattapan, home to the highest concentration of African Americans in Boston? Or the South End, center of the city’s LGBT and artist community?
It’s striking how swiftly these distinctions have dissolved in recent days. Boston, in both its own eyes and the eyes of the world, is one. One city, one identity, one sense of self, one purpose. Boston Strong. It is a remarkable unity, in many ways a beautiful unity, and certainly in this season an incredibly cathartic unity. It is a unity borne of shared culture, linked history, and common identity.
But at its core, Boston unity is based essentially on shared geography.
As a Christian, I find this both incredibly inspiring and challenging. Do we see the same degree of affinity within the body of Christ that we are now seeing in the city of Boston? Do we see the same unity amidst diversity within Evangelicalism that we see within Red Sox Nation?
The comparison is perhaps made even more striking as we reflect on our cultural context. The unifying bond of every group of humans (sports teams, families, business, cults, etc) increases in times of trial, and especially in times of attack. We’re seeing this in its best form in Boston right now. But this is also a period of trial for Christianity; it is inarguable that Christianity is losing its central position in American culture.
But the tale has not yet been fully told. We still have the ability craft the answer to the question, “Will we choose to be one?” We can still choose unity over uniformity.
Boston has responded with a fierce unity. Boston has let the world know that regardless of their differences in salary, religion, neighborhood, and political views, that when push comes to shove there is only one Boston.
I understand that there are many issues that seem to divide us as Christians. Countless denominations, differences between Catholics and Protestants, diverging viewpoints in key areas of theology.
But the reason that unites us is far greater.
“There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”
If Boston can unite around a their common geography, then we can certainly unite around our common Lord.
Above all else, may we be known for our love. And may our love compel us to cultivate a fierce unity.