A bee, the humble worker kind, has been an emblem of the city of Manchester, in England, for over 150 years. It harkens back to the manual labor performed in the textile mills, colloquially referred to as “hives” during the industrial revolution.
In the wake of the May terrorist attack at the Manchester Arena that claimed 22 lives and injured at least 120, the humble bee has come to represent a buoying spirit of unity and solidarity. Through slogans like “Unity is Strength” or #WeStandTogether (pictured above), people have adopted the bee in various ways. Some added it to their social media profiles. Hundreds of other Mancunians have had bee tattoos done. Ariana Grande, whose concert was marred by the attack, scheduled an all-star cast to perform a reprise concert with this tweet: “Our response to this violence must be to come closer together, to help each other, to love more, to sing louder and to live more kindly and generously than we did before.”
What if the really hard work in today’s diverse society is not the kind that involves commuting - even with the current Penn Station troubles such as they are? What if the demanding kind of work we all face, irrespective of who or where we are, is neither manual nor intellectual in nature? What if the challenging assignment before all of us today involves coming together, building bridges, and creating community in spite of agendas (or excuses) to judge and exclude others - especially those who are not like us? What if the heaviest lifting we may have to do today is to manufacture a sense of unity by accepting, living, and loving more generously than we ever have before?
The children of God, like worker bees, thrive in a hive, which we call “church,” or our “family of faith,” or a “body of Christ,” which in our case is aptly named “Community Congregational Church,” doubly emphasizing the qualities of unity and togetherness.
We are, however, not brought together by tragedy, but by divine love. Our bonds are not forged in a recoil from evil, but instead by our daily pursuit of godliness. We know we are “Christians” by our love. And so we stand together in our modern, pluralistic world, in both plenty and in want, always enveloped by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of God’s Holy Spirit.