Our Beliefs, Our Bodies, Our Wallets

Our Beliefs, Our Bodies, Our Wallets

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By the Rev. Dr. Jim Antal
Minister and President, Massachusetts Conference, UCC

This is the season of Occupy. It’s also a season of most unseasonal weather. In church, it’s stewardship season. And in the UCC, we’re wrapping up Mission: 1. These are all connected.
 
The Occupy movement is now in 900 cities worldwide. They have outdone Rupert Murdock. The Occupy movement has changed the conversation.  However uncouth the effort – America is beginning to own up to structural inequality. 
 
How has this happened? Elizabeth Warren (and others) have articulated this message for decades. Why has the conversation changed now? 
 
Rev. Dr. Jim Antal
The Rev. Dr. Jim Antal being arrested at a White House protest against the Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline.
Bodies. The Occupiers put their bodies on the line. 
 
What we’ve always referred to as weather has also affected bodies across Massachusetts in hundreds of communities. The recent freak snow storm pierced the plans of millions. Hurricane Irene’s legacy has made many detours all but permanent. The devastating tornado winds continue to echo in the minds of those whose bodies that felt that fear, and are still displaced.  (See Jim's 11/11 pastoral letter on the effect of the storms.)
 
As scientific consensus connects these now frequent events with climate change, a bit of good news emerged today: President Obama is delaying a decision on the Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline for at least a year. He says he needs more information. Why the delay?
 
Bodies. Eighty two days ago people from all over America began putting their bodies on the line – getting arrested at the White House – to convince Obama to do what he did today. Some 1,254 people were arrested over two weeks. Since then, those people showed up wherever Obama spoke – urging him to do what he did today. Among their dreams – my dream – is that the increasing frequency of extreme weather-related destruction will someday diminish. But to create that tomorrow takes bodies today.
 
This weekend we learned that two of the four audacious goals of Mission: 1 had been exceeded, and the other two nearly reached. Hungry bodies will be fed – in your town as well as in Africa. Congress will know our beliefs because they have received 35,000 letters. 
 
We weren’t sure we could do this. Most of the Keystone Pipeline protesters weren’t sure their bodies would make a difference. O ye of little faith... 
 
It’s stewardship season. All that we are – all that we have – is God’s. What do we keep for ourselves? What do we do with the body – the life – the opportunity to witness – which God has given us? May your body be a blessing – a testimony to your conscience. Yes; the voice of God is calling.

 

Author

Jim Antal
Jim Antal

Jim Antal is a denominational leader, activist and public theologian.  He led the 360 churches of the Massachusetts Conference United Church of Christ from 2006 to his retirement in 2018.  An environmental activist from the first Earth Day in 1970, ...

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