This week has felt a bit surreal. I keep shaking my head trying to figure out “What is going on?” Tonight I found myself at an Interfaith prayer vigil held at Temple Emanuel trying to make sense of the events in Charlottesville, VA and the aftermath of rhetoric
swirling around. What a powerful night to see people standing together calling on love and hope to move us forward. I will confess that there was a moment this week that I found myself going back to 2012 standing in Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem, staring at the exhibits telling the story leading up to the Holocaust, scratching my head wondering how did they get to that moment. How did we get to this moment? That was a hard day because I was on an Interfaith tour of the Holy Land with Christians, Jews and Muslims. We were having honest conversation and learning from one another and at times also challenging one another. I listened as the Jewish guide painfully made obvious all of the moments in time when Christians could
have stood up to the Nationalism that began to take over their country. It was to this place that my memory took me, and it was chilling.
What has been on my heart is a new conviction that we have finally reached a place where I can no longer be guarded or silent for fear of those around me reacting negatively about a difference in politics. This is about so much more. This is about right and wrong. This is about ok and not ok. This is about love and hate. This is about diversity and white supremacy / racism. And I will not find myself on the side of wishing that I had said something sooner.
My soul aches for what I see happening. A weird nod being given towards those in our country that think white people are superior. Where chanting Nazi phrases and aggressively carrying torches, guns and sticks is an appropriate way to protest taking down Civil War historical statues. That is not ok.
It’s not ok because I am a Christian who believes in Jesus’ ethic of love. I may not always agree (and I do not think any statues should just be defaced or ripped down but that local authorities need to handle those decisions), but I respect a variety of opinions and believe that diversity of beliefs and people makes us stronger. I am ok if a conversation ends with “we are going to have to agree to disagree on this.” And I will live my life as Jesus prescribed – we are to love one another. Love is so much more powerful than hate.
So I choose to be a voice advocating for love. I do not intend for my voice to be incendiary. I do not intend to sound more divisive or angry or judgemental. If you hear it that way than I encourage you to listen carefully to your own heart. I am simply speaking my truth. More importantly, I am speaking Jesus’ truth. And I think I speak for the truth that makes this country of ours amazing and beautiful.
As Bishop Ken Carter from the Florida Conference of the UMC encourages, I will use the words white supremacists instead of masking it in code language. I will hold
accountable the moral and ethical obligation people in power have regarding taking the high road of how we treat one another. I will hold myself accountable for seeking out opportunities to have difficult conversations, again not for the purpose to incite but to learn and stretch myself in a culture where race relations are tense. I invite you to do the same. Let’s start having these critical conversations with one another.
And please remember that the point of it all, is to be faithful to Jesus’ love ethic. Because what is gong on right now, is not acceptable. We can do better than this.
Grace and Peace,