July 24, 2019

Belonging with Purpose- Called to Stand with the Vulnerable

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”― Edmund Burke

The church is called to stand with the vulnerable. It’s likely something that we prioritize in our minds and perhaps with some regularity in our lives. We might go about doing this quietly. But what do we do when our quiet commitments sound like a whisper by the volume of national news? Should the church speak to cruel comments made by our president about other elected officials? If so, how? If we make a comment on it, does it mean that we’re making a comment on the rest of his leadership? Aren’t we capable of parsing out things that we support and things that we don’t support in him? After all, don’t we do this for any human? Even if we don’t agree on the political position of four congresswomen, what is the reason to turn a blind eye on the attack of them personally? Does our quiet commitment to stand with the vulnerable speak as loudly as we hope? July 22 is the feast day of Mary of Magdala. It is believed that she is the woman that Jesus stood up for when she was about to be stoned to death, an action defended by people who didn’t agree with her ways (John 8:2-11). Anytime that people were dehumanized (called Sinners and Prostitutes and Tax Collectors), Jesus sought to restore their humanity by treating them as worthy of love. This was scandalous. It eventually got him killed. We feel this same threat. It’s not easy to take a stand. We wonder what it will cost us. We fear that it might make us ostracized or further separate people from one another. Can’t we say the same thing as Jesus- He who is without sin throw the first stone? None of us is without sin. (1 John 1:8-10) So none of us should be throwing stones. None of us. We can speak up in defense of the attacked without becoming an attacker. This is non-violent action. It is up to us as Christians to defend those who are being dehumanized. How will you familiarize yourself with the humanity of another so that you can stand up for their humanity when you see it being attacked? How will you do this non-violently? Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan when he was asked by a very smart person, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” The smart man knew the answer- You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself. He asked a follow-up question of Jesus in an effort to justify himself, to assure himself that he was right, “And who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:25-37) Jesus told a story of a Samaritan doing the right thing. The ethnic division between Samaritans and Jesus’ own people cannot be overemphasized. Jesus highlights how much it cost the Samaritan to show mercy- “Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.” Jesus questions the smart man- “Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” The man answered- “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, and says to us, “Go and do likewise.” “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”― Edmund Burke (in a letter addressed to Thomas Mercer, c1770). If someone has turned up the volume, whether we like it or not, then we have to find a way for the voice of the faithful to not be drowned out by it. I’m certain that our just and merciful Father, even today, will present a way for us to voice his love and care for all creation, to stand with the vulnerable, and to do so non-violently by not attacking another’s humanity. By making this our constant prayer, it will become our action.

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