One of the most common challenges faced by any forward-thinking stick-your-neck-out acting disciple is this: driven by our passion, we get out ahead of God’s people. This can happen in any setting, and on any scale. By their nature, prophets exemplify this challenge. In contrast, what makes an organizer effective is that she stays connected with her people and brings (at least some of) them along.
According to our Conference mission statement, the point of becoming a vital church is “to make God’s love and justice real.” If you hear that as part of your call as a disciple, I would suggest you read a brief article by my friend and environmental theologian-activist Peter Sawtell. It’s called “The Rule of 5.” http://www.eco-justice.org/E-131018.asp The phrase comes from Rabbi Andrea Cohen-Kiener, former director of the Interreligious Eco-Justice Network in Connecticut. Whatever your passion – however you feel called “to make God’s love and justice real” – this article is worth your time. If you’re interested in receiving Peter Sawtell’s weekly message, you can subscribe at: http://www.eco-justice.org/E-list.asp.
A new article by Bill McKibben, “Movements Without Leaders – What to Make of Change on an Overheating Planet", provides additional, helpful perspective on the organizing and leadership required of those seeking “to make God’s love and justice real.” This article is introduced by an extraordinary and inspiring overview by Rebecca Solnit.
Sisters and brothers – we are living amidst urgent, unprecedented challenges. Only if and when faith communities embrace God’s calling for us to face these challenges and bring to them our prophetic imagination, moral resolve, joyful dispositon, capacity for sacrifice, and affirmation of the common good --- only then will the quiet despair that rules our hearts be overcome by the hope that God has promised to every generation.
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, ...