I was so excited for today. I was excited because it was Traci Blackmon day! She was coming to speak with us, the Together As, One group, over our breakfast caucus AND she was preaching during our big Sunday worship this afternoon. I was so excited.
I went down early to breakfast and witnessed her interpret a part of the Exodus that told us about the time that God sat back, after doing everything for the Israelites, to let them help themselves for a change. So, Moses stepped up to help the battle by lifting his arms in the air. When his arms were lifted the Israelites were winning, and when they dropped lower and lower they began to lose. God didn’t send some miracle to help his arms stay up - Moses’ counterparts finally figured out they needed to help him and hold up his arms.
We have to do it together. We simply cannot do this important, live-giving and life-saving work alone. This bizarre disconnect between the national church and the local church stunts God’s ability to administer God’s love and justice through us. The local church is the vehicle through which justice is administered - as she said, justice is what love looks like in public; and we cannot do justice work without proximity to pain.
I mentioned togetherness in yesterday’s blog in the context of moving out of our comfort zones. We must seek the places of pain and brokenness and we cannot turn inward for fear of scarcity in our churches. We cannot buy into the fear that we don’t have enough to care for God’s people, that we don’t have enough to turn outward rather than self sustain. The first thing we tend to do when we feel scarce is to stop giving to or reaching out to others. By doing that, we are doing the equivalent of closing our borders. “No matter who you are, or where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here” is the foundation of the extravagant welcome of the United Church of Christ. Discipleship, my friends, is not for the faint of heart. It is a courageous call to, not only move into the world and challenge that which systematically enforces injustice, but it also sometimes asks us to challenge those who we love the most. Jesus’ salt and light commissioning was not to the outsider, it was to His followers - those who had already decided to follow Him, it was said to us! As Traci said, we need to show up and do the work. We are a salty people and we Shine! with the light that only the Holy Spirit can emit. So come on church, let’s get to work!
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