Break The Silence

I spent a lot of my years as a pastor being quiet about the things that divided our society---issues of justice, mercy, equality, and the like.  

I did this for a lot of reasons, mostly selfish ones.  I worried that if I spoke up, I would offend people, lose church members, and make people angry at me.  I also felt like I should just stay in my lane, and not do anything to upset anyone. 

Several years ago, I   remember reading this quote from the great Swiss theologian, Karl Barth, who wrote this exhortation to preachers: 

“Take your Bible and take your newspaper, and read both. But interpret newspapers from your Bible.”

I have come to believe that following Barth's advice is one of the many things I am called to do as a preacher and a pastor.  But I also believe that it is also the duty of all of those who claim to be followers of Christ. 

There's so much that's wrong with our world around us, so much that divides us.  But there's also so much that's beautiful and life-giving, too.  There are signs of resurrection and grace all around us, but these often get overlooked or diminished by everything else. 

This is where those of us who say that we're Jesus-followers come in.  If we really believe the things that we say we believe, then we have to believe that there's grace, mercy, peace, and justice for everyone.  

After all, Jesus himself said: "God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be rescued (saved). 

The First Nation chief, and Episcopal Bishop, Steven Charleston, wrote about this very thing:  
Many people are listening, but what are they hearing?  Break the silence with the sound of the words the Spirit has given you.  Speak hope and mercy, speak justice and truth, say what you believe that will heal and help.  Now is not the time to be quiet, for there is an ocean of listening all around you, waiting for the words of life. 

There's a better story in the words of a faith that is grounded in the story of how God is saving the world through the witness of Jesus.  

There's a better story in how through Jesus we get a glimpse of the universal and eternal Christ, who is present throughout all of Creation, working to make all things new, and the world right.   

There's a better story in your story of grace and redemption, so tell it.  Keep one eye on the newspaper because there's plenty that needs interpreting through the lens of God's love and merciful justice.  

But also keep one eye on the Scripture that tells the story of how that love came to life and risked everything to save us all.  

Now is not the time to be silent, sisters and brothers.  If we don't speak life to the world around us, then who will?  People are listening, but if those who have the words of love are silent, what will they hear?  

Break the silence and tell the story of how grace came to you and saved your life.  Tell the story of how love wins and mercy triumphs.  Tell the story of a better world because it will be visible when you begin to speak it into existence.  

May it be so, and may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.  

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