Tuesday, August 01, 2017

From the Moderator

Contributions to the column reserved for the moderator will present meditations, written by members of the congregations in the IL/WI District.

On Saturday, August 12 in Charlottesville, VA, a white supremacist committed an act of terrorism, running over counter protesters with a car. The act was meant to strike fear into the hearts of any who would dare to show up with their bodies to say no to racism. Beloved members of the body of Christ, I urge you, “do not be afraid.”

In Luke, an angel appears to the shepherds in the field and proclaims, “Do not be afraid, I bring you good news of great joy for all the people” (Luke 2:10). In the chapter before the angel greeted Mary with these same words: “Do not be afraid.” Mary’s call will be to bear Christ into the world and in him the human embodiment of God’s love. The shepherds’ calls too will be to bear the love of Christ into the world by sharing the “good news of great joy.” I believe that all followers of Christ are called to embody that love. So, I say to you, “do not be afraid.”

At times that means putting our bodies on the line to show that love. Sometimes we are called to risk, as Alexander Mack put it in the hymn Count Well the Cost, “your reputation, your self, your wealth, for Christ the Lord.” Even in those times, I urge you, “do not be afraid.”

Mary’s call most certainly put her in harm’s way. Being an unwed mother in her time and culture could have resulted in a lifetime of poverty if not a death sentence. Yet, she responded, “let it be.” Perhaps she understood, as we may understand today, that not to bear Christ’s love into the world would be a far more frightening prospect.

The “good news of great joy” the angel speaks of is “good news” for “all the people.” It is good news that Jesus—the embodiment of God’s love—is born. It is good news for all the people. It is not good news for just some of the people. It is good news for all the people, because God loves all the people. That is indeed “good news of great joy” worthy of being shouted to all who would listen, as the shepherds went forth that night. When we cling to that love, what shall we fear?

If you are a white person called to examine your own white privilege and dismantle the systems of racism which hurt us all, “be not afraid.” If you a person of color called to free yourself and others around you from the violence of overt and covert racism, “be not afraid.” If you are a white person who believes white people are superior to people of color and Jews, “be not afraid” to lay down this prejudice that does violence not only to your neighbors but also to you, your relationships, and your own soul. If you are confused and not sure what to make of the news media, social media, or the conversations of your neighbors, “be not afraid” to ask questions, to learn, and to grow. Whoever you are, “be not afraid” to bear the love of Christ in the world. God is with you just as God was with Mary and the shepherds in the field. That is indeed “good news of great joy” that may give us courage despite any headlines or events that come our way.

Katie Shaw Thompson
Pastor at Highland Avenue in Elgin, IL

Please note that the July Moderator’s Column was written by Pastor Ginny Haney of Mount Morris COB.