Wednesday, January 6th, 2021
Like most of you, my attention and time has been fixed upon the images, visuals, commentary that has come from our nation’s capital today. Shock, disbelief, frustration and anger are just a few of the feelings and emotions I have experienced.
Today, is also Epiphany! This is the day that the Magi find their way to Bethlehem and present themselves and their gifts to the Babe. For me, personally, Epiphany is the day when my understanding of power and privilege gets flipped on its head. Power was not found in the hallways of Congress or a Palace Court, but in a feeding trough. The first witnesses to God’s idea of power and influence were not politicians, CEO’s or cultural influencers, but people of low standing. Epiphany, you see, reminds us that our ideas of kingship, power, privilege, influence, and the like, are misguided, at best.
Today, and going forward, is the moment where our belief system, Jesus Christ, compels us to lead with love, grace and respect toward those that disagree with us, even as there may be some of us who disagree about what is happening. We can demonstrate to the world around us what faith in action is, what it looks like… that we are compelled to be peacemakers. It’s easy to point fingers, to hurl insults, to name call. It is much harder to live-out-loud the teachings of Jesus like we find in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5—7).
As followers of the Christ, we are prisoners of Hope! We are called to be Peacemakers! We are to be examples of levelheaded calm even when we feel outraged and angry. We are the people of God. We are all made in the image of God and carry God’s image with us.
Let us pray, for our nation, for each other, for those we disagree with. We pray for the President and the President-Elect. We pray, period.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer!
Lead with Love!
But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us.
We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed…
2nd Corinthians 4: 7—9
I know that many people, including colleagues, friends and acquaintances have not been silent when it comes to the unrest and injustice we are witnessing as a nation. The murder of George Floyd has become the tipping point and what we have experienced and seen with our own eyes has woken the majority of our nation up. Unfortunately, it has taken too many lost lives of our Black and Brown brothers and sisters for many of us to come to that realization and reality.
I pastor a church community that is predominately Euro-Caucasian but is diverse in thought, experiences and theology. My silence has been driven by anger. I’m in a daze. I’m fed up and frustrated. I want to say something profound and unifying. Something, anything, that can bring opposite viewpoints together in order for people to be judged on their character, rather than where they fall on some spectrum of color, politics, religion, sexuality, etc. But I got nothing… nothing but tears, anger and a spirit of helplessness. I don’t understand! Lord have mercy!
Know that as a man, a white man, I stand with my friends of color! I stand with Black Lives Matter! As a pastor, I recognize that I minister to a diverse group of people in how they view and interact with the world around them. I always try to be sensitive to their needs and their viewpoints. But my calling by God asks of me to speak prophetically from time to time, even if it might make others uncomfortable. This is one of those times. I encourage you to listen to the stories of others, especially those members of your family, friends, co-workers of color. Active listening is working hard to understand the message and meaning of what you are hearing. Then the conversations can begin. I encourage you to read up and educate yourself on challenges we face concerning race and the church. We have added a few resources for you to use in that process, including one for families with children and youth.
We have a problem! Let’s acknowledge it and own it. It’s a heart problem! It’s a spiritual problem! It’s about broken systems that need to be reformed and overhauled. Now is not the time to throw stones but to learn how to be allies with those most affected. Now is not the time to whitewash the stain of racism but to look at it square in the eye, acknowledge it and to say out loud that it has no place in God’s Reign! That we stand side-by-side and hand-in-hand with our brothers and sisters of color, in order, to prayerfully, respectfully, and lovingly work and advocate for justice, peace…shalom!
These are hard, uncomfortable days. But, this the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it!
In fear, trembling, humility and hope,
Rev. Mark Rambo
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