In the rat race of life, we all need a good, comfortable pair of shoes!
Imagine a scenario with me. What if you are beginning a race, and you are told at the starting line that the people in charge want to make everything equal. So they brought the same, exact shoes for everyone to wear - same size, same shape, same color.
That wouldn’t be fair, would it? Not everyone has the same size or shaped feet! Some are narrow, some are wide; we all need something a little different for our feet to be comfortable. (Some might even be on wheels for a race!)
In order for the race to be fair, we would want to figure out the very best shoes for each person’s feet. If I am in a race, I would want my shoes to fit well and be worn in a bit, too. Each person needs a unique size and shape of shoe to set them up to be the most successful in reaching the finish line of the race.
Now instead, if each person is given a pair of shoes that fits well for the race, that’s equity - having each person wear the shoes that each person needs for his or her own particular feet. And in this 2021 race of life, everyone needs a good, comfortable pair of shoes that fit. We need this sort of equity!
I’ve found this metaphor of equity about shoes helpful, as I’ve been thinking about it myself lately. As a parent, I wonder what does my own child in our school district need in his individual way for his best learning to take place, and what are other kids’ needs for their best learning scenarios?
How are we meeting those needs of equity through our school systems, church communities and civic leadership support?
As a pastor, I wonder how are we meeting people’s individual needs at church for their learning or worship needs in growth and development as I speak and communicate?
I’ve also been thinking about equity and diversity in terms of all the current events surrounding the aftermath of George Floyd’s death and our state’s and country’s struggle to discuss these matters and work through them in compassionate and hopeful ways as we recover from the pandemic.
I know many are talking about these issues and praying about them, too. We are praying that the Holy Spirit will lead us as a community in working through these issues for the common good of our life together in this community that we cherish.
God cherishes our community as well, as God cherishes all of God’s creation, all of God’s people - made for goodness, grace and equity.
Jesus addressed this as well. Jesus said: “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13:34-35).
He said this right before his crucifixion, when he was with his dearest friends, the disciples, in the upper room. He had just washed their feet as a symbol of servant love and celebrated a feast of love, the Passover. It’s after these actions of love for them that Jesus instructed them how to act out this love on earth with his words about loving one another.
Jesus’ words still guide us today. And this love for neighbor includes equity. I’m convinced that if shoes were as protective back in Jesus’ time, as they are today, Jesus would have given each of them good shoes that fit, preparing them for the journey ahead, too.
So, let’s keep talking, listening and praying about what equity means for the common good of all and the common good of our community. I know God will bring good things out of our discernment together to help us find good shoes that fit for each person. Amen!
Kristin Oltmann is senior pastor at Crosslake Lutheran Church.