During this time of July when we celebrate Independence Day I will be praying for our country. I know many of you are joining me. This is a time like none I have experienced before. My natural response is to be fearful.
I have heard from a good friend who is a counselor that appointments have increased due to fear and stress. Let's face it, political affiliation aside, there are reasons to be concerned.
We seldom listen to one another. We aren't trying to talk with each other. Relationships are strained. The fabric that holds us together is threadbare. We share sound bites that have little reasonable argument. Social media has exacerbated the problem. A lie can be repeated and picked up and circulated quickly and often and people begin to believe it.
I'm not sure where that leaves us? How do we reconcile differences?
As an example, I am certainly aware that the situation involving children being separated from parents/family on the southern border was on many minds and hearts over the last few weeks. Several of you have talked with me about it. There is not a consensus on how to solve the complexities of illegal immigration, asylum seekers, and immigration policy. Many Christians of various perspectives are united in their call for action to approach the care of children in this crisis with compassion.
As of the writing of this blog, President Trump has stopped the separation of families. There are still concerns over the fate of the children already in detention centers and shelters, reuniting families, and what any new policy will entail.
Here is a place you may access information from the United Methodist Church, and our Bishops. This link is to the United Methodist Church's understanding of immigration, just one issue that divides us right now. And while we quip at each other real people with real families with real concerns are caught in the cross fire.
https://www.umnews.org/en/news/order-ending-family-separations-welcomed You can find, through the above link other resources that explain the United Methodist Church's social principles on the subject of immigration.
From my own faith perspective, and as leader of a Christian community, I do believe this is a critical time in our country that calls for leadership and conviction. So, I speak of my own understanding of the scriptures where I read from beginning to end words about caring for the sojourner, aiding the stranger, having compassion for all.
Overarching the individual challenges that we as a nation need to address is the need to place others above ourselves. We need leadership that is willing to stand above loyalty to political power and work for the good of everyone. Decisions are being made based on political maneuvering and not on getting things done for the people.
Then there is the real fear on the minds of many Americans that fascism is rearing its head. Others feel that we've gone way beyond rearing the head and are in a dangerous place. Others think that's ridiculous. What to do? How to come together?
During the time leading up to the Civil War, the Methodist Episcopal Church split into two denominations over the concerns raised regarding slavery. The Methodist Episcopal Church in the north was formed and was against slavery. The Methodist Episcopal Church South was formed and allowed members to own slaves.
Seventeen years after, the US was in a Civil War over the same issue.
Here we are again at a crossroads in our own denomination. The presenting issue is not the issue. We, as the UM Church, have started acting like the world. We aren't listening, talking, allowing for our differences, using sound bites to define others, talking in angry rhetoric.
We've been here before.
So, I pray.
Jesus said, "Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples-when they see the love you have for each other." (John 13:34)
"Love won't solve everything," you may be thinking.
I'd love to find out that Jesus was right.