Rev. Carol Hallman: I wonder
I wonder, have we failed? Has the Church failed to communicate the gospel? Have we, as the Church, failed to speak up and stand up when there is injustice in our world? Have we been part of the problem instead of part of the solution? With our church scandals of clergy sexual abuse, with our rejection of people who are LGBTQ, our squabbles about who is welcome and who is not, and the demonization of people who are of different faith traditions and ethnicities, have we added to this climate of hate?
All the times that we haven’t spoken up when we’ve heard slurs towards people and ignored them. All the times when we have just brushed off, laughed off speech that demeans others makes me wonder if we have truly failed to be bold enough in lifting the vision of God’s kingdom put forth through the gospel of love.
Maybe we need to shout it from the mountaintops, maybe we need to blast it out in tweets, but the truth is this: hate is not, has not been, never will be a Christian value.
God is love. We, the Church have not been bold enough in sharing this. Each person, each life is unique and special, crafted brilliantly by our Creator. Each person starts out with amazing potential but too often people get worn down by criticism and judgment and yes, even hate. Many of our adults carry scars. Some of those scars were caused by the Church and for this we repent. For this and the ways our Churches have failed to share or live out the gospel of love, we repent.
We, the Church are called to live our faith out in the world, not just occupy a pew on Sunday. If we aren’t speaking up, if we aren’t looking out for the least of these, if we aren’t loving even the most unlovable, we are part of the problem and not part of the solution. Jesus tells us that most important commandment is to “love God and love one another.”
Too often the gospel gets watered down to the question of “are you saved?” when the reality is that the gospel is not egocentric, the gospel challenges us to look at the wider picture, reminding us that we are each part of the other. We are called to be the community whether we are gathered or scattered.
Think of the story that Jesus told of the vine and branches. If one branch withers, the others wither too. We are called to be a community of love standing against hate because thoughts and prayers are great, but the epistle of James reminds us “faith without works is dead.”
Carol Hallman is resident minister at First UCC, 207 W. Horah St.
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