Jesus: Breaking the Political Binary
Offered by Bob Lotz
EPF Gun Violence Prevention Action Group Convener
and Secretary to the NEC
We are in one of those times when people are divided and angrily at odds with those they see as on the "wrong" side. It has happened before, when we were also on the verge of great changes: before the Civil War, and during the Great Depression, for example.
As part of the Jesus Movement we must stand for justice. But we are not here to choose between the two sides in the national argument. We represent a third way, the way of love. We have to see the spark of the divine in all God’s children. It is our hope to be part of the transformation of all of us, to reconcile all people to each other and to God.
We are here to bring good news to the poor, freedom to the imprisoned, and recovery to the disabled.
That requires us to defend the oppressed and the marginalized, and to oppose all violence. That means the violence of the police, of course; the police are always charged with managing inequality and maintaining the existing social order. We also oppose the violence expressed as the denial of health care, the denial of adequate housing, the denial of adequate food and clean water, the denial of the dignity of work. These are all forms of violence that are visited upon the poor every day.
We also oppose the acts of violent desperation that the marginalized sometimes commit. But we draw a distinction between the theft or destruction of property, and the destruction of human lives. We will always raise up and defend lives.
Some will downplay or ignore the murders committed by agents of the government but demand further violence in response to protests against the police. We of the Jesus Movement respond to this with love, not hate…. but with a militant love that actively seeks to protect the oppressed.
We cannot be passive if we truly love. We can’t be sanctimonious on the sidelines. Jesus teaches us a non-violent love that is militant and transformational.
This is what makes the way of the Jesus Movement unique: the possibility of a third path, a way of love, of transformation, to a world that is truly "on earth, as it is in heaven."
Thanks to our friends at Ordinary Liturgy for this liturgy for anti-racism.
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Frederick Douglass, July 5, 1852 addressing the Rochester Ladies’ Anti-Slavery Society in Rochester, New York:
"At a time like this, scorching irony, not convincing argument, is needed. O! had I the ability, and could I reach the nation’s ear, I would, to-day, pour out a fiery stream of biting ridicule, blasting reproach, withering sarcasm, and stern rebuke. For it is not light that is needed, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake. The feeling of the nation must be quickened; the conscience of the nation must be roused; the propriety of the nation must be startled; the hypocrisy of the nation must be exposed; and its crimes against God and man must be proclaimed and denounced.
"What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciations of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade, and solemnity, are, to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy — a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices, more shocking and bloody, than are the people of these United States, at this very hour!"
Israel is considering whether to annex large parts of the West Bank as early as July 1, with the U.S. government supporting and coordinating the annexation. What does this mean? How will this impact the daily lives of Palestinians and the prospect for peace?
Read more for opportunities to get involved, and follow our EPF Palestine Israel Network to learn more.
Episcopal Peace Fellowship seeks nominations for its John Nevin Sayre Award. EPF established the Sayre award in 1979 to honor founding EPF member Rev. John Nevin Sayre for his lifetime of service waging the Gospel of Peace. Sayre was an Episcopal priest, pacifist, missionary, teacher and author who gained notoriety when he challenged President Woodrow Wilson to address the devastating events of World War I. Because of Sayre’s efforts, Wilson agreed recognizing conscientious objection as a legal alternative to military service. Sayre has been described as a peace apostle whose life was devoted to the waging of peace and opposition to war.
In 1979, two years after Sayre’s death, Episcopal Peace Fellowship honored his lifelong commitment to peace by establishing the John Nevin Sayre Award. The award is conferred every three years at General Convention for courageous witness in the cause of justice and peace to a recipient selected by the EPF National Executive Council. Through this award Episcopal Peace Fellowship publicly recognizes Episcopalians who are actively living their baptismal promises of striving for justice and peace among all people, and respecting the dignity of every human being. Like the person for whom the award is named, recipients have dedicated their life’s work to courageously promoting a culture of peace and nonviolence in the face of cultural opposition. Past recipients include Rev. Naim Ateek, Madeline Trichel, Mary Miller, Louis Crew, Newland Smith, Very Rev. Canon Patrick Augustine, Caroline Stevenson, and Patty and the late Rt. Rev. Ed Browning.
The 2021 John Nevin Sayre Award will be presented at the EPF General Convention reception on Tuesday, June 29, 2021. The Rev. Bob Davidson, chair of EPF’s National Executive Council, looks forward to EPF’s reception each Convention. “It isn’t often that we are witnesses to peacemakers of such magnitude living in our midst. These awards remind us that working among us are living, breathing models of God’s call to follow the Prince of Peace,” said Rev. Davidson.
Nominations should be emailed to EPF Executive Director Melanie Merkle Atha at epfactnow by November 1, 2020, including in the letter of nomination the ways in which the nominee has worked for peace and justice.
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