Your MACUCC leaders have received scores of requests for "help" as our pastors lead their congregations and step into their pulpits in a time such as this. The following is one in a series of reflections on what it means to "Be the Church" in a time such as this.
Esther 4:14 -
For if you keep silence at such a time as this, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another quarter, but you and your father's family will perish. Who knows? Perhaps you have come to royal dignity for just such a time as this."
YES! Let us begin with "Yes!" - embracing our call "at a time such as this."
We have been called as humble yet bold emissaries of God's truth at a time when history itself is swinging on a hinge. However many years you have ministered in Christ's name, your leadership amidst the challenges we now face is likely what will distinguish your service. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel said, "History is a pyramid of efforts and errors," and then he went on to say, "yet at times it is the Holy Mountain on which God holds judgment over the nations." God has called you and me - and Jesus' followers have heard and affirmed that call - looking to our leadership to illuminate the path ahead.
Let us not forget the poet's reminder: "In a dark time, the eye begins to see."
Fifty years ago, that courageous champion of justice and harbinger of hope Martin Luther King, Jr. reminded us of "the fierce urgency of NOW." Whether under Eisenhower, Kennedy or Johnson, King was clear that America needed "a revolution in moral values." In keeping with Heschel, who railed against those who would "abort their conscience," and following King, who "refused to segregate his conscience," now is the time for we who serve God representing the United Church of Christ to amplify the call of conscience as never before.
These things I know:
In responding to God's call to BE THE CHURCH we must seek and provide one another with the selfless courage and joy that is ours when we respond anew to Jesus' call to "Come; follow me."
The time has now come for all First World Christians to re-evaluate what gives life meaning and how we will stand up for the least of these among us and God's great gift of creation.
Just as truth is the first casualty of war, the cry for justice is drowned out by the blusterous ascent of oligarchs and plutocrats.
As the media continues to be distracted by ideological spats and intemperate barbs, it falls to faith leaders to expose the systemic sources of injustice and all who benefit from the persistence of inequality.
You and I can't discern what and how we are being called to preach in this moment on our own. We need to be in conversation with others - including others whose views are not ours.
As you and I pray for God's guidance in further shaping our leadership, know that the Massachusetts Conference UCC and the wider United Church of Christ will do everything we can to support you in your ministry in a time such as this.
Minister and President
Massachusetts Conference, United Church of Christ
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, ...