Reflecting on Public Theology
This reflection was presented by Adrienne Dillon, a member of The Episcopal Church of All Saints and Ascension in Northwoods at a Public Theology webinar, hosted by Province V on November 10. We thank Adrienne for sharing this with us.
The election is finished, although some are saying that it isn’t. Seventy-six million voters are pleased and seventy-one million are disappointed. The votes represent radically different visions of who we are and who we should be as Christians and as Americans. Christians are on both sides of this vote. When we discuss Christian morality and ethics, we cannot agree on priorities. Which issues are non-negotiable? Which ones can we ignore if we believe a greater good is at stake? Whose rights are more important?
As Christians, we do agree on some basics. All of us are created in God’s image. God came to earth “to share our human nature, to live and die as one of us,” to reconcile us to God. By his death and resurrection, he brought us eternal life. In our vows of baptism, we promise to “seek and serve Christ in all persons” and to “respect the dignity of every human being.”
As Advent approaches, the lectionary reminds us that Jesus will come again to give judgment. In Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus gives us a clear statement about how we will be judged. Jesus separates the sheep from the goats. He says to the sheep, “I was hungry and you fed me.” When did we do this? When we cared for the least of our brothers and sisters. Did we visit those in prison? Better yet, did we work to keep them out of prison? Will Jesus say to us, “I was a stranger and you welcomed me?” Do we feed the hungry, or do we blame them?
“God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son…” That includes Black and White, rich and poor, gay and straight, young and old, male, female, and those who don’t use either of those words to describe themselves. We must insist that everyone be treated with respect. This is the non-negotiable. We must condemn violence and oppression in all forms. We must disavow hateful speech. We must reject a system of institutions that privileges some while placing stumbling blocks for others.
But how do we discuss this in love with those who disagree? We must love all people, even those who view the world in a very different way. We must listen carefully while standing up for what we believe is right. A prayer attributed to St. Francis of Assisi says, “let me not so much seek to be understood as to understand.” Yet we must try to be understood. Silence gives consent to injustice. We cannot be silent because Jesus dwells among the oppressed. We are called to speak the truth in love.