It has been a rough week. The image of children being separated from their parents has shaken me to my core – a stark reminder of my own roots (as well as those of Native American, Jewish, and other brothers and sisters around the world) and how close we are to history repeating itself.
Having just returned from our New York Annual Conference, it appears more certain than ever that our United Methodist Church is on the verge of splitting over the full inclusion of our LGBTQIA+ siblings, and rightly so.
Last Sunday, as I stood in the center aisle of our church bringing words of welcome, the service was interrupted by a young man who seemed “out of control”. Threats were made, the police were called, and it was troubling to say the least. Everything remained calm, and thankfully no physical harm was done, but it was another reminder of how mental illness is present among us.
And then, the report out of Pittsburgh as yet another unarmed black man, 17 year old Antwon Rose, was shot to death while fleeing police. Fleeing police, those charged to serve and protect – yet again.
Many have asked, “What can we do? What can I do?” I ask myself that too, and here are a few immediate suggestions that come to mind:
- Call your congress person(s) and make sure your voice is heard.
- Join a march, protest, or rally on issues that matter to you.
- Start a voter registration campaign; all elections matter.
- Pay attention to places and spaces around you where hatred, prejudice, and indifference seem normative, and be an agent of change.
- Take the risk of being present in important conversations, even when doing so may be difficult and appear to be costly.
I realize that I might have been completely dismayed this week, were it not also for other reminders of a greater hope:
- Persons who continue to challenge the status quo and the advocacy that led to the reversal of an executive order in which immigrant families might remain together.
- 640 United Methodists who issued a formal complaint in solidarity against a fellow United Methodist calling him to task regarding his social and political use of power.
- The witness of PAUMC and the life we share in community where all are welcome – none are excluded – and the beauty of that, especially in these times.
- Family and friends who let me be in my own skin just as I am, and the affirmation that my being is enough.
- And faith in a loving God who will not let any of us go; faith that not only comforts but also confronts; pushes us out and forward to be all that we can be while we can.
My friend, may you also seek and prayerfully find reminders of God’s prevailing presence. It is there, I assure you.