Executive Conference Minister
So, I’m not much of a Facebook “sharer,” but this picture has shown up many times in my newsfeed in recent days. It tells an important story.
On the cusp of this Advent season, five governors from Central Plains states have already announced that there is no room at the inn for people who are fleeing Syria. Syrian refugees can’t “go back to where they came from” because “where they came from” simply doesn’t exist anymore. Our fear of the other makes us forget that refugees are the victims of violence, not the perpetrators.
Closer to home in Minneapolis, five black protesters were shot…in front of the police station. They were protesting the shooting death of 24-year-old Jamar Clark. The shooters, shooting in front of the police station, walked away. This morning, I watched a video of a young black man shot sixteen times by a policeman in Chicago.
We are witnesses to the many places in the world that believe that violence is the answer to every problem.
But the writer of Ephesians offers a different answer for every situation. The answer is found in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Jesus, who was crucified, lives. He is the author of life. He has been placed far above every ruler, authority, power and dominion. And because he lives, life-giving power is always available, always an option…always. Even thought we die, we will live.
Every major headline amplifies the stories of those who trust the things that lead to death. That’s the news.
But those who choose the things that lead to death won’t forever wreak havoc in the world. For “God who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses has made us alive.” We have passed from death to life. We are now God’s preferred instruments to reveal the wisdom of God to the most extreme corners of the universe in as many ways as possible. (Ephesians 3:10) Revealing God’s wisdom is not a “flashbang” strategy of overwhelming force. We announce God’s wisdom linking arms with one another in humility, gentleness, patience, and love – “living a life worthy of the calling to which we have been called.” In this way we persist in faithful presence, communities of resistance, a people of eternal hope.
Some feel the only way to get their message through is to shoot other people, bomb other people, shout other people down, or blow themselves up. It takes faith to say that, in Jesus, God has an answer for that. We are the voice of those who can no longer speak. In speaking we bring back to life those who have been destroyed by those who trust the things that lead to death.
Revealing the wisdom of God in the face of terror, we speak love in the face of fear. We model trust in God in the presence of our enemies. We declare the power of the resurrection to those who announce the threat of death. We find space for refugees and all whose hearts have been broken in communities of grace, joy, and peace as God’s healing and hope flow through us to the world.
Nations shall come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your dawn.