At the end of 2020 and beginning of the year, I posted a watchnight sermon by Bishop LaTrelle Easterling of the Baltimore-Washington Conference of the UMC, in part because I desperately hoped in this new year for a renewed energy to recognize and address the deep divisions in this
Nation, the inequalities in our systems and the lingering racism written into our foundation. Many have named the pandemic of white supremacy as something we must work to overcome and, sadly, it won't be as easy as getting vaccinated.
So I started a social media campaign with a hashtag (theme) for 2021 calling on our better selves to work on a renewed vision of democracy that makes equality for all a central value (see Isabel Wilkerson's book "Caste" for brilliant analysis and articulation of this vision). I had planned for regular posts with reflections this January with a prayer for a New Year, Renewed Vision.
Given last night's armed attack on the Capitol perhaps I was naive to think we could call on one another to be civil to each other in our disagreement, but I stand by my faith in proclaiming hope.
Thank you for joining us in prayer yesterday for our Capitol, whether from home or in the sanctuary, as we've done at other critical moments in our nation's history.
Here's a snippet from Bishop Easterling's post last night, calling us again to our better angels so that ALL may experience this country's promise.
"It is tempting to call for peace, for order and
unity. And while we do need to reclaim the peace, we can only do so while speaking the truth of today's horror. It is time to name our reality, to name the deep divisions and hatred being played out in the Senate chamber and throughout the People's House. It is another watershed moment; a time to raise our voices to heaven and take stock of who we, as Americans, have become.
This alarming occupation and violence at the U.S. Capitol are symptomatic of the vitriol and poison that now infects our culture. It disheartens. The rioters who climbed the steps and walls of the Capitol sought to overturn the law, a fair election, and justice, and claimed their motivation was to defend God and their freedoms. They waved banners emblazoned with the words, "Jesus Saves," but this is not what Emmanuel came to earth to embody. This is a perversion of the Gospel. This should drive all of us to our knees.
Since March, I have shared messages with you as we live through this liminal time of two pandemics. Today, the chasm of this in-between time grows deeper. As a church, we are called to profound and fervent prayer - prayer that will shake foundations and usher in a new age; prayer that will transform hearts and a nation; prayer that reminds us of what Christ has called us to be beyond partisan divides. I call on each of you to transcend fear and to resist the temptation to seek the reassurance of easy answers. Followers of Jesus Christ must prophetically embody, in word and deed, the precepts, practices and promises of the Gospel message. It is a message of love, but a love that speaks truth and stands against immorality.
As a church, as Christians, we must condemn all the forces that led to the unprecedented insurrection today - forces of hate, of white supremacy, of distorted self-interest, and abuse of power."
We will continue to fall on our knees, invite deeper understanding of the divisions, seek transformation of our own hearts and work to usher in a new age. In to this anxious time, let's be the church of hope not fear, kindness not ugliness, justice not hate.
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