My friend and colleague Rev. Ken Page (Orangewood Presbyterian Church, Phoenix, AZ) posted this on his Facebook page as a way of sharing his thoughts with his congregation and community.
I can’t let my first pastoral letter stand by itself. I believe everything in it. I am working to live by everything in it, but I can’t stop there. I cannot just take the “why don’t we all just get along” path and the “let’s find a way to feel better about this” path when there are people who need pastoral ministry far more than we do. Part of the job of the pastor is to comfort the afflicted. Part of the job is to afflict the comfortable. Prepare to be pastored.
On Tuesday, we elected a man who paints the marginalized in our society with the broadest of possible brushes. He calls Mexicans rapists and murderers. He has called for the banning of all Muslims from our country, and then walked it back . . . but only a little. He has painted African American communities as “hell.” He speaks in the vilest of language about women, brags about sexually assaulting women and has been accused of doing it a dozen times. He has incited violence at his rallies, and offered to pay the legal fees for anyone who heeds his call. His language towards people of color is inflammatory and he has failed to rebuke the White Supremacists who have supported him in record numbers. He threatens to set back rights and acceptance that the LGBT community has struggled towards for generations.
It is the job of the Church of Jesus Christ to rebuke such behavior! Instead, we have elected him President of the United States, and he won the “Christian Vote.”
Now, it is the job of the Christian Church to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable.
How can we comfort the afflicted? They are afraid:
- The woman who has been sexually assaulted, who is experiencing her pain all over again because she now feels like society doesn’t care about justice for her
- The African American octogenarian who has fought for a lifetime for civil rights, only to feel that she is more and more becoming less and less of a human being
- The 9-year-old citizen of the United States of America who fears that her parents will be deported on day one
- The gay man who dreams of getting married, but now fears that right will be taken away
- The Muslim man who realizes that his faith, his character, his actions are no longer no longer judged as an individual, but by his membership in a group of “terrorists”
- The young black man who has to proclaim that Black Lives Matter because so often black lives have not mattered
How do we comfort them? We can’t fix it, but we can let them know that we stand with them. We must speak up for the marginalized because many of them are hiding in a corner right now. We must stand with the marginalized, because simply our presence is an act of support. YOU ARE NOT ALONE! We must protest when injustice rears its head because that is where Christ would be! We must use our power for those with less power, because that is what Christ would do!
How do we afflict the comfortable? Most Americans didn’t vote based on overt racism, xenophobia and misogyny. They voted for small government, for reduced taxes, for less regulations, for repealed Obamacare, for Supreme Court justices who share their values. Many chose from what they considered two bad choices. That’s the real world.
But still, in the bad side of their choice, most American voted for racism, xenophobia and misogyny. If you made the lesser of evil choice, I feel for you, but it is absolutely your duty to reject the parts of that choice that are evil! Not just in an aside, but with your regular speech, and your regular actions. We cannot let ourselves off the hook for the negative side of this choice because we feel it was a lesser of evils choice, we have to work, both for the good of the choice, and against the evil. We have four years of work to do!
Proverbs 31:8-9 “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”
Luke 4:18-91 “The Spirit of the LORD is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the year of the Lord is at hand!