What will our testimony be?
It is easy to fall into self-protective modes of functioning when the world around us seems to be so conflict-ridden, chaotic, and just plain mean spirited. When we are uncertain of our own core values, anxious about the future, or shaky in our understanding of the Christian faith, it can be easier to keep our mouths shut when we see bullying behavior on the streets or toxic presentations of a distorted and divisive parody of Christianity. When we are not clear about our own identity as Beloved of God, or the identity of the other as also Beloved of God, we can easily lose our way.
Jesus said, “I AM the Way, and the Truth, and the Life…”
It is normal and natural as human beings to experience anger. Anger points us to deeper emotions that may be more difficult to express. Jesus’ anger in the temple was expressed physically as he drove money changers out of the place, shouting, “Is it not written, ‘My house of shall be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers!” (Mark 11:17) His anger came from a sense of outrage at the distortion of God’s love for all the world into something that exploited the poor and divided people from God and from one another. His anger boiled over at this time because it WAS his time. In earlier encounters he showed more restraint. It was not yet his time.
I felt an anger similar to Jesus’ outrage last Saturday when several men gathered with banners, signs, and a bullhorn at the corner of 6th and Commercial during the Anacortes Arts Festival to broadcast their version of hate under a veneer of judgmental Christianity. They wanted people to engage with them, to feed their negative energy. What they stirred up was not a love of Jesus or a desire to follow His way of peacemaking, justice, and love. They did not point toward a Jesus who welcomes children, the outcasts and the broken. Their message caused festival visitors to flee the sound of that assaultive bullhorn. Their method and message in that context caused visitors to scurry past the artists and vendors at that intersection who had come to share their creativity and passion with our community.
Not the time. Not the place. Not the method. Not the message.
But what will OUR testimony be?
The next morning during worship, we opened doors at the Depot, sang hymns, prayed for the world, and welcomed a child into the Body of Christ through the sacrament of Holy Baptism. Riley Elaine Fisher was born in love and is called by Love to be light to the world. She is, and we are called to give witness to the light that cannot be quenched by darkness. We are called together to be God’s hands and feet in this world, to be beacons of hope and healing.
As Christians we are called to extend love in the vulnerability and strength of Jesus Christ. He lived true to his identity as Beloved Child of God. As we study his teachings and practice his Way, we discover the deep Truth that we, too, are Beloved of God. We, too, are full of anger and hope. We, too, sometimes lose it, sometimes make zealous mistakes that hurt others unintentionally. We are human. We are loved. Let’s help Riley and the children of our hearts and community to grow into grace knowing Jesus and the One who sent him.