I love this time of year, when all my Christmas stuff is put away and the treats and goodies are stale enough to feed to chickens. Usually I settle in for winter but this year I’m going on vacation. The kind that requires eight days’ worth of sunscreen! But I’m taking my warmest coat and mittens because we (Carl and I) are returning via Washington D.C. so we can attend the Women’s March on Washington on January 21st. I thought I’d use this space to tell you why I’m going.
I am a Christian, a pastor and an American. The three are as tangled together as yarn the cat got. I know, without a shadow of doubt, that the purpose of my life is to follow Jesus; to go as he goes, speak as he speaks, do as he does. While the scriptures are informative, my living relationship with Jesus is the primary teacher of this discipleship. I am accountable to Him in all things and above all others. When and where the laws and rules of the world do not interfere with discipleship, I’ve no conflicts of obedience. When worldly laws and rules do interfere, discipleship begs for conformity to Christ alone. I am also a pastor, a representative of the institutional church in this time and place – one voice from within that institution, bearing public witness to the Christian gospel as it comments on world events. The church’s pallid history of speaking truth to power need not also be our future. As an American I have the guaranteed freedom and security to speak my objections to the ruling power. To be led by Christ to speak truth to power, and then squander the freedom to do so, is to violate my own soul on all three counts: Christian, pastor and citizen.
So, I am going to Washington to speak this truth to power: Jesus requires me to love my neighbor.
Jesus requires me to welcome strangers. Jesus requires me to care for the poor. Jesus requires me to make peace with my enemies. Jesus forbids me not only to kill my enemies but to hate them in my heart. Washington is like an altar call at the end of church. I’m going down front to make a public promise I cannot back out of later, should loving my neighbor become illegal or caring for the poor become expensive to me personally. And most of all, should hating the people whose opinions I hate threaten to overwhelm me. Strange as it sounds to my own heart, I think Jesus wants me to go for me most of all. I hope you’ll pray for me.