Every morning, my first waking thought is one of gratitude – gratitude to God for having been born into a time such as this.
Many have told me that this is not an obvious perspective. Every day we are shocked by new assaults on reason, unprecedented violations of human rights and increasing disregard of fairness and justice. So what exactly is there to be grateful for?
My response is simple: we actually get to make a difference!
Living as we are in a world of rampant injustice, a world in which we continue to run Genesis in reverse, when any of us as individuals, or as a family, or as a congregation, or as a community – when any of us choose to speak out, to bear witness, to leverage change by using our voices, our influence, our time, our bodies or our other assets – we can actually make a difference.
The mission of the Massachusetts Conference of the UCC makes it clear that our life together within each of our congregations, and our life together as 360 congregations, is focused on making “God’s love and justice real.” As we approach a decision to bring the three UCC Conferences in Southern New England together as one, our proposed mission-purpose-vision statement likewise commits “to making God’s love and justice real.”
I am inspired every time I learn how one of our congregations is responding to this call. Several of our congregations have become sanctuary churches. Many of our congregations have engaged in racial justice training and white privilege workshops. Numerous churches are installing solar panels on their roofs. Many congregations, after hearing sermons on the distinction between being political and being partisan, have embraced God’s call to make God’s love and justice real. When the Poor People’s Campaign was launched a week ago, the UCC was on the steps of the State House demanding that in this election year, our nation undertake a serious examination of the enmeshed evils of systemic racism, systemic poverty, ecological devastation and the war economy.
Because we have been born in a time such as this, we have this opportunity to bear witness to the truth. How blessed are we that our voices – our lives – can actually make a difference. This is our calling. This is what it looks like to be faithful.
What is the witness to which God is calling you? How do you want to be remembered?
What is the witness to which God is calling your congregation? How does your congregation want to be remembered?
I invite you to join me in allowing gratitude to fill your heart, and courage to animate your engagement of the powers and principalities. Thanks be to God for the opportunity we are now given to speak out, stand up, push back, and point to a new world – a just world at peace - that God is calling us to build.
Rev. Dr. Jim Antal is the Conference Minister and President of the Massachusetts Conference, UCC.
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