“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Luke 4:18, 19a
“Don’t talk politics from the pulpit!” is the familiar and unending refrain. We all understand this because politics, by nature, is divisive and we at the church are here to unite, draw each other closer to God’s love and work for peace and justice. The catch is, there are political implications to the Gospel! Namely, we stand against oppression and injustice. This is one of our deepest held beliefs considering, the passage shared above is the passage Jesus read in his own hometown place of worship. It has been long described as Jesus’ own mission statement. Therefore, a deep part of our purpose as a people of faith.
The news is full of real-time events that shake our understanding of who we are and what the world community means. But, the event that rises to the top of all of this is when a generation long peace on the European continent is shattered by war. The sustained assault of a Goliath sized country against a relative David of the Ukraine is by definition oppression. The reported arrest of Ukrainian citizens and transport to camps deep into the heart of Russia and their imprisoned is the kind of stuff that the scripture passage is talking about.
We at UPCC pride ourselves in searching out a “middle way.” Sometimes there’s just no charitable way to look at events. If you, like many in our community, feel for the people displaced by these actions, we urge you to give to the Global H.O.P.E. (UCC) or the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance fund set up for the people fleeing this violence.
Our current history really is a shocking thing. Our world has been groaning under the weight of COVID. To that strain, now the tumult of war is added. It can make a person despair of what is becoming of the world and thereby lose the ability to be a part of the solution. When these feelings come, I remember an old saying commenting on the book of Micah from the Old Testament, “Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly now, love mercy now, walk humbly now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.”
The understated point in all this is, in the face of all this inhumanity, the real struggle is to continue to grow more kind, compassionate and caring. That is the journey of faith. That is how we walk humbly with our God and fellow humans. It is a small thing to give to the refugee fund. But, the few dollars that we give to help people in need are added to others and that will mean real support. It is a first humble step in the long walk of bringing peace back to our world.
Grace and peace,
Rev. James F. Deters