Be The Church in a Time Such As This - Message 2


Jim Antal

1/27/2017

Your MACUCC leaders have received scores of requests for "help" as our pastors lead their congregations and step into their pulpits in a time such as this.  The following is one in a series of reflections on what it means to "Be the Church" in a time such as this.

Esther 4:14 -
For if you keep silence at such a time as this, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another quarter, but you and your father's family will perish. Who knows? Perhaps you have come to royal dignity for just such a time as this." 


January 27, 2017
 
Confronting with Courage the One Who Sees Only "Carnage" Making God's Work Our Own

This is the moment for which we have been called. How fitting that every four years, the Inauguration of the American President is surrounded by the season of Epiphany - when the truth of Gospel is revealed to the world.
 
Millions of women, men and children flooded the streets in scores of cities around the world the day after the Inauguration because they resonated with what the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said 50 years ago in April 1967: "There comes a time when silence is betrayal."
 
As he did so often, King was channeling our Lord. Just before Jesus cries over Jerusalem, when the Pharisees ask Jesus to order his disciples to stop, Jesus responds, "I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out." (Luke 19:40)
 
A day after the Inauguration, the twitter accounts of the National Park Service were silenced. But on Tuesday (January 24) "the stones" began to shout out as the Twitter account for South Dakota's Badlands National Park-a subsidiary of the National Park Service-began tweeting out  climate change facts. We have already reached the point where sharing truths - sharing facts -is a sign of both heroism and hope.
 
The words of poet James Russell Lowell ring true, "Truth forever on the scaffold; wrong forever on the throne."
 
In 1966 Senator Robert F. Kennedy delivered  a speech for the ages, not long after Nelson Mandela had been silenced to the jails for 27 years. RFK addressed the Union of Students in Cape Town, South Africa - but he locates hope, not in those who have lived only a brief while, but in the qualities of youth: 
 
"Our answer is the world's hope; it is to rely on youth. The cruelties and obstacles of this swiftly changing planet will not yield to obsolete dogmas and outworn slogans.  It cannot be moved by those who cling to a present which is already dying, who prefer the illusion of security to the excitement and danger which comes with even the most peaceful progress.  This world demands the qualities of youth; not a time of life but a state of mind, a temper of the will, a quality of the imagination, a predominance of courage over timidity, of the appetite for adventure over the love of ease...."
And he concludes with these words:
"With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God's work must truly be our own."
 
Epiphany is the season in which the truth of the Gospel is revealed to the world.
 
But the scientists we employ with our tax dollars to carry out climate science have now been silenced.  Worse yet, their academic papers will be subject to review so that the incoming Director of the EPA (who is most known for having sued the EPA again and again and again) will be able to assure that their scientific conclusions are consistent with the views of the new administration.
 
Let's make Epiphany a time when we, as followers of Christ, shun "alternative facts" while clinging to the truth that will set us free. 
 
Let us rejoice that the "world" which God so loved cannot be divided by political or ideological passion. It is the indivisible blue marble surrounded by a common climate which - at the moment - is almost 1.5° Celsius hotter than it has been for the past 11,700 years during which civilization developed. Seven billion people are living this fact. There is no alternative fact - no alternative earth - no planet B.
 
This is the moment for which we have been called. Let us not be silent. It is, after all, the season of truth.

Jim Antal
Minister and President
Massachusetts Conference, United Church of Christ



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