This past Sunday was Juneteenth, celebrating when the enslaved people in Texas finally learned of their freedom. This coming Sunday we celebrate the recipients of our Men's Group Scholarships, almost all of whom will be students of color. And yesterday, the nation heard from a Black election worker in Georgia who was told by the FBI in January 2020 to leave her home for two months because she wasn't safe. In her statement she said: "I made sure Georgia residents were properly registered to vote. When I was young, my grandmother made sure I knew how important it was to vote, because it is an opportunity that a lot of members of my family before me did not have. I wanted to make sure that everyone had that opportunity."
It is all connected, Good People.
Like most preachers, I have heard “I don’t want to hear about politics" many times over the years. But honestly, it doesn't feel possible to be Christian and not engage with "politics."
If "politics" has to do with our laws and policies, with the actions of our government and the people we elect to shape our common life, then how can our faith not speak to these things?
Jesus gave us very specific commands: feed the hungry, welcome the stranger, turn the other cheek, etc, but he also rode directly into Jerusalem where he was arrested and executed by the occupying Roman Empire. If Jesus came simply to encourage the donation of canned goods, he would have hidden out in small villages and lived a much quieter life. But “love your neighbor“ plus facing down the empire, means he intended to challenge the ordering of society. Do we choose Caesar's kingdom (power, violence, hierarchy, scarcity) or God's kingdom (service, peace, equality, abundance)?
Of course we need to give food to hungry neighbors, but what are the structures and forces that cause our neighbors to be hungry? Sure, we need to contribute to a neighbor's fundraiser for their cancer treatment, but what are the structures and policies that cause our neighbors to go bankrupt from medical bills? Why does Andover have a 97% high school graduation rate, and in Lawrence it is 71%?
Loving our neighbors means not only charity, but also looking at WHY people are hungry or struggling or sick, and seeking to order our common life in a more just and equitable way. I do believe that is what Jesus would do!