Well here we go again! The airwaves and social networking are being flooded with peoples pontifications on the latest controversy; NFL players and staff reacting to Donald Trumps “campaign” speech (wait, wasn’t he already elected) condemning a players right to peacefully demonstrate during the National Anthem.
Note: players who are using their fame and status to make a statement are not doing so because they feel “oppressed” as some critics have stated. They are doing it to show solidarity with those who are. Not to mention, many professional athletes have stepped up their “social” game and used their wealth and influence to do a lot of good. Do I think they are being disrespectful to the American flag? No more than those Christian churches who choose not to display the flag in their sanctuaries – as is their right. (Don’t freak out. The flag is still in our sanctuary…no more comments on that issue).
I am mentioning this whole bruhaha here because I want us as a congregation to keep our focus; to stay the course by maintaining a level of graciousness, civility, and decency as we seek to respond to the great schism being experienced in our country during these most tenacious times.
I was so impressed with one professional athlete being interviewed who simply stated, “we need to be compassionate;” a word I have used on many an occasion. As a religious institution, being compassionate is crucial to our survival; not to mention its what drives us in living out our call as disciples to a most gracious, but bold, activist working for the common good of all people. Yes, Jesus was an activist; a non-violent resistor to a system that continuously created actions and policies discriminatory to a people who were consistently victimized by the systems power and judgement.
On October 8th we will gather as a congregation in a specially called meeting to discuss and vote on whether we should declare ourselves a compassionate community or not. That is what it boils down to. We are a mainline protestant church that professes a more progressive faith; a faith that is less judgmental and more proactive when it comes to basic human rights. Furthermore, we do not consider ourselves religious fundamentalists and therefore seek to interpret the Bible for our times. That means, we constantly struggle with discerning what is “truth” and “relevant” versus what was implied and practiced in a very different world and context when the Bible was developed.
Simply put, the resolution (see ONA column) we will vote on, if approved, will validate a practice of extravagant welcome that we implemented many years ago. So, will we officially declare ourselves to be a compassionate community in practice and in truth? Will we agree to genuinely support the statement that “no matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey YOU ARE WELCOME HERE?” That is the question we will be called on to answer. To be or not to be a Compassionate Community?
See ya in Church!