Like many of you, I stayed up until 3:15 a.m. to see how the election would end.
Like many of you, I’ve listened to countless post-election analyses.
Like many of you, I am reading carefully stated and beautiful, inspiring, sometimes comforting reflections by persons who are pointing us forward with grace and hope.
On the morning after, I sat with judicatory leaders representing the various denominations and communions that form the Ohio Council of Churches. During the discussion of a vexing justice issue, we were challenged to find a way forward from a position of unity and faithfulness to our shared baptismal responsibility as Christian citizens.
The leader of that conversation cited Proverbs 31:8-9 from the Easy-to-Read Version (ERV):
“8 Speak up for people who cannot speak for themselves. Help people who are in trouble. 9 Stand up for what you know is right, and judge all people fairly. Protect the rights of the poor and those who need help.”
It occurred to me in the early hours of coming to grips with a new American landscape that we have read these words and other admonitions from scripture over and over again. I think of phrases from our UCC Statement of Faith about being servants in the service of others, proclaiming the gospel throughout the world, resisting evil.
We are recently introduced to a new form of purpose, mission and vision statements adopted by the United Church of Christ Board. Those phrases read like this:
• The Purpose of the United Church of Christ: To love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength and our neighbor as ourselves. (Mt. 22)
• The Mission of the United Church of Christ: United in Spirit and inspired by God’s grace, we welcome all, love all, and seek justice for all.
• The Vision of the United Church of Christ: United in Christ’s love, a just world for all.
• The Core Values of the United Church of Christ: Extravagant Welcome, Continuing Testament, Changing Lives
There are plenty of clear, clever and conscientious slogans and mantras which we recite. The challenge is to go beyond reciting frequently to responding faithfully. When we are baptized, we commit ourselves to energetic stewardship of a call to work with God toward the promised realm that is to be “on earth as it is in heaven.”
Whether we cheer or fear the implications of an incredible political campaign and election, we are still Christians called to stand up, stand with, speak up, and stay faithful.
Two other portions of scripture come to mind. The first, admittedly taken out of context, is from Luke 12:8-9: From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from the one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded.
Or, as Eugene Petersen expresses it in “The Message:” Great gifts mean great responsibilities; greater gifts, greater responsibilities!
We are blessed with the responsibility to witness for God in Christ-like ways.
When we struggle with the “cost and joy of discipleship” we find power in other parts of that same mission statement which articulates that we believe in a God who acts, who loves, who judges, who offers God’s own Spirit to create and renew, and who promises forgiveness, grace, courage, presence – and life.
This is a time, perhaps more now than any other recent time, for us to dig into Proverbs 31, the UCC Board emphasis on love of God and neighbor, and Luke’s reminder that much is expected of us. Discern how to put these teachings into play in each family, each congregation, each cluster of committed friends, and each expression of the Church. It is time to be even more engaged than we’ve ever been in being the Church we are expected to be.
It is time for more than “just singing.”
The phrase comes from a song by Tim Hughes “God of Justice.” I heard it first at a Baccalaureate service when our own Heidelberg University conferred an honorary degree on friend Shari Prestemon, at the time executive director of Back Bay Mission, now conference Minister of Minnesota Conference. Based on Micah 6:8- a scriptural mandate which Back Bay Mission and Dr. Prestemon embody so well – the song coaches us to “live to feed the hungry, stand beside the broken….stepping forward, keep us from just singing, move us into action, we must go….”
Listen to the whole song at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b3NelRb1LY4.
Dear Christian friends, Pray. Then let your prayer take wings, and feet and hands and head and heart – that the United Church of Christ in Ohio – just one expression among many of God’s Church – may stand up for those who have no voice, stand with those who seek justice, and stand humbly in devotion to the God who calls us to be the salt and light which are desperately needed in these times!
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