- Aileen McKernan
In the Shadows of Monticello
I’ve spent the last ten years of my life living, breathing, being in the shadows of Monticello. Visible from every angle of the streets I’ve occupied, its distinguished manicured slope has been a constant backdrop, a constant reminder, a constant questioning, a constant searching, a constant prayer to my inquisitive mind and indefatigable spirit. It is what brought me here to begin with and it is why I have stayed.
I am an American citizen, an immigrant’s granddaughter who escaped the squalor and poverty and sewer filled streets of an unrested war-torn Ireland. There were no glamorous green rolling glens for Dennis. He hated the British with a zeal, serving jail time rather than the crown during World War Two. The gift of the gab and glib escaped him on this topic. Most of what I knew came from the family rumor mill, but he did once become incensed at me when I told him I liked Jaguars. We were just talking about cars. I did not understand his outrage.
His love of freedom I possessed, but a child of time, circumstance, generation, naivety, simplicity I just believed the American creed that all men are created equal. In a white Catholic school in a largely white community, I celebrated black history month and was encouraged to find and write about and emulate black heroes. My first boyfriend was a dark-skinned lad from India. Different did not mean unequal to me. I saw different as an invitation to find common ground, believing our humanity united us more than differences of backgrounds, upbringings, beliefs, and nationalities. Maybe this backdrop made the stretch to another citizenship I possess a little easier.
As I explored in another post, having believed in Christ Jesus by Faith, I am no longer a natural (wo)man, my citizenship is now in another realm and that defines me more than any worldly circumstance, who my parents are, my grandparents, what my former beliefs and customs were. I am first and foremost a citizen of heaven. Its customs and beliefs are completely counter-cultural, radically opposed to the world system. That’s why it’s so important our minds are renewed, are transformed by the Word of God because it is the Word and the Spirit that make that reality, the realm of heaven, its customs and beliefs and ways of being real to us (See Romans 12). It’s like we lost it in the fall, were blinded to it by the enemy, and in Christ have the joy and pleasure of discovering who we are and how to be all over again.
Therefore if I’m a new creation with a citizenship in heaven and all the former things being dead, under the blood, buried at the cross, that their weight and influence no longer define me but I can see them for what they are, and you are a new creation too, dead to your previous ways of being and seeing, regardless of your background, upbringing, natural circumstances that means We “have all become true children of God by faith in Jesus the Anointed One...And we no longer see each other in our former state – Jew or non-Jew, rich or poor, male or female – because we’re all one through our union with Jesus Christ with no distinction between us.” (Galatians 3:26-28)
We’re all one through our union with Jesus Christ with no distinction between us.
NO distinction between us.
WE NO LONGER SEE each other in our former state.
We don’t see where we came from, sin deadened lives defined by the things that don’t matter most. We see each other in the liberty of the gospel of grace. We see each other for where we truly came from. We see each other as we truly are.
We are ONE in Christ Jesus as individuals because the blood removed the veil between us, the separation between us (John 17) and this position, this identity, this vision enables us to also see that we are one with each other.
“Just as the human body is one, though it has many parts that together form one body, so too is Christ. For by one Spirit we all were immersed and mingled into one single body. And no matter our status – whether we are Jews or non-Jews, oppressed or free- we are all privileged to drink deeply of the same Spirit.”
We are all privileged to drink deeply of the same Spirit.
As I went for a morning run recently, huffed and puffed along Moore’s Creek, one of the many rivers and streams that lie in the shadow of Monticello, the behemoth of American History, I couldn’t help but think on these matters.
Despite the mountain that may always be in eyes gaze, in the shadows of Monticello there is life for all who are thirsty. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of our God. There is living waters flowing from the throne room of Grace, it is crystal clear (Revelations 22), its depths are limitless and the river always abounds towards us. There is a path through the past of our blood-stained American history and it is paved in the precious blood of Jesus Christ. It is a Holy Highway that forgives the sins, makes all things new, and annihilates the differences between us. It doesn’t discount the injustice or negate the offenses, no. It doesn’t shame or blame or hold account either. No. It refreshes. It renews. It honors. It brings life to the dead and freedom to those who believe.
We are One.
Our identity is at the table together, NOW, not in our former state, not what we used to be.
The truth of God is demanding. It is a double edge sword for a reason because it forces us to let go of things that are convenient or comfortable to carry. Oh I had pride for how I could move easily between black and white communities, sympathetic to reconciliation – even just the past few years cutting my teeth in a “black” Apostolic ministry. I wasn’t raised like my grandpa. Even that, He chops away so we can see things as they really are. It is absolutely inconsequential my background and experience, my modernity and hipness. He let me walk through it so I could know that His word is a greater truth. What matters not is Black and White in the USA, it is that we see things as they are so what should be, IS. Unity. We don’t lose our identity when we become born again and see things this way, we actually gain more than we ever thought we lost. Our true selves. Each other.
We must leave the emotions, the injustices, the outrages, the fear behind and move into a new way of living, being and breathing in our city and in our nation. Our natural prosperity and future security may very well depend upon it and our heavenly prosperity and security demand it.
The beauty of the demands of God is that we live in the age of Grace where Jesus Christ fulfilled the requirements of the Law. The only hinge we need swing on is the hinge of Love. Believe. Receive this beautiful gift today and you will find yourself following His voice into the promised land He has prepared us for who are ONE in HIM.