Trust During Trial and Rejoicing
Just the other day I was talking to one of my peers in a peer accountability group about feeling overwhelmed by the tragic events we have faced as a nation in the last few days. I expressed that I could not completely put into words how I was feeling. One moment I feel angered and outraged. The next I feel deeply saddened and dismayed. There have also be moments when I feel speechless and almost numb. My colleagues shared similar experiences. Then one said something quite profound, "Even if we feel numb, that is good, because we are still feeling something."
As I stare at this somewhat blank page unsure of what words I can offer, I am grateful that I am still feeling something. Already this week, I have been in conversation with many of you about what our response should be to the ever-increasing wave of gun violence, death, hatred, racism and xenophobia that seems to erode the fabric of our collective souls. Such events can cause us to wonder if we have completely lost our moral compass. Yet, there is the hope that "we are still feeling something."
Even though it is a reality check for all of us that when we overhear someone talking about a mass shooting, our response might be, "which one?" I do not believe we are at a point of completely normalizing this as an acceptable given. I believe we are still outraged. We are still shocked. We still grieve when we are faced with the atrocities of the loss of human life and the irreversible harm and violence deep-seated hatred can construct.
I believe that most of us who name ourselves as Christians and who can confidently stand in our churches proclaiming what we believe as members of the United Church of Christ do share the common beliefs of the United Church of Christ Statement of Faith.
I believe that most of us DO believe God creates all "humankind in the Divine image." Therefore, we seek to live lives which honor and protect the worth and dignity of ALL people.
I believe that most of us DO believe God seeks to save all people by God's holy love declared through prophets and apostles. Therefore, as heirs of the legacy of the prophets and apostles, we humbly walk in God's grace and take seriously the ways we have been entrusted with this message of God's salvific holy love.
I believe that most of us DO believe Christ conquered sin and death and continued to reconcile the world to God and to one another. Therefore, our trust is in our Savior, not in a worldly leader or political party.
I believe that most of us DO believe Christ is creating and renewing the Church and the world through binding in covenant every "age, tongue, and race." Therefore, we seek to cultivate healthy and whole relationships with all our divinely created siblings.
I believe that most of us DO believe Christ calls us to accept the highs and lows of living out a faith rooted in service and proclamation. Therefore, we understand our baptismal calling to be an ongoing journey of growing in our personal faith and committing ourselves daily to carrying on the work, mission, and ministry of Christ.
I believe that most of us DO believe Christ not only forgives sins, but also gives us the courage to struggle for justice and peace when we encounter evil, which threatens the life and peace God intends for humanity. Therefore, we feel and accept the weight of our responsibility to respond. Even though our voices may shake, we will seek Christ's courage to speak. Even though we might be overwhelmed by the powers that be which seems to be a stronger force than our action, we will boldly move forward with Christ at our side.
Finally, I believe that most of us DO believe God is present in all times of trial and rejoicing, because there is no limit to the power and presence of the Eternal One in whom we place all trust and faith. Therefore, even when we do not know what to do, say, or even pray, we will carry on. We will trust that the One who created us will equip us to follow faithfully in the footsteps of Savior Jesus Christ to proclaim and live out the good news that love shall prevail over all.
May you and I continue to feel, trust, and believe.
Together in Christ' ministry with you,
Rev. Shana Johnson, Conference Minister
United Church of Christ Statement of Faith in the form of a doxology
We believe in you, O God, Eternal Spirit, God of our Savior Jesus Christ and our God, and to your deeds we testify:
You call the worlds into being, create persons in your own image,and set before each one the ways of life and death.
You seek in holy love to save all people from aimlessness and sin.
You judge people and nations by your righteous will declared through prophets and apostles.
In Jesus Christ, the man of Nazareth, our crucified and risen Savior, you have come to us and shared our common lot, conquering sin and death and reconciling the world to yourself.
You bestow upon us your Holy Spirit, creating and renewing the church of Jesus Christ, binding in covenant faithful people of all ages, tongues, and races.
You call us into your church to accept the cost and joy of discipleship, to be your servants in the service of others, to proclaim the gospel to all the world and resist the powers of evil, to share in Christ's baptism and eat at his table, to join him in his passion and victory.
You promise to all who trust you forgiveness of sins and fullness of grace, courage in the struggle for justice and peace, your presence in trial and rejoicing, and eternal life in your realm which has no end.
Blessing and honor, glory and power be unto you. Amen.