When we were first discussing a Summit “Black Lives Matter” vigil in committee, I was excited, but inwardly a little skeptical. What would a few people holding up signs accomplish? Were we just doing it to feel virtuous? Wouldn’t it be better to join with USG’s weekly vigil, strengthening their efforts? Knowing that I have a tendency to be overly anxious when it comes to new projects, I decided to just keep quiet and join in. And after I stood on the corner of Lincoln and Greene that first Friday evening, I was converted.
I was converted by the enthusiasm showed by people who walked or drove by. They were so happy to see us: honking, waving, putting their thumbs up. African Americans, Whites, young, old, people driving Priuses or mini vans, trucks and sports cars (although not too many stylish cars in Mt. Airy). The signs seemed to lift their spirits. We felt encouraged — and hope they did, too. For there is much work ahead! We need to encourage one another.
It also made me think that in the face of the pandemic, encouragement is something that’s been lacking from both political parties. Of course there are exceptions, public health and state and local officials often rising to the occasion. But there’s been little encouragement from the national level. Warnings, yes: and needed. Information, yes: and helpful, if sometimes confusing. Lies and fantasies, yes: and harmful. Blaming others: yes, sometimes warranted, sometimes not. But encouragement? Acknowledgement and gratitude for the discipline Americans have exercised? Not so much. Sympathy and acknowledgement for the hardships people are facing, from the deaths of loved ones to the loss of work to the travails of online schooling? Not so much. Holding before the people a vision of what it would mean to fight this together, helping one another and emerging stronger on the other side? Unless I’ve missed it, hardly at all!
In this charged political climate encouragement may be hard thing for politicians to do, as they (we) risk giving credit to the other side. But encouragement is something the church is called and suited to do, because of the encouragement we know in Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ who knew pain and loneliness and rejection, but who remained steadfast in love and obedience to God. Jesus Christ who lived for us, died for us, reigns in heaven for us and prays for us. Jesus who saves us, not because of what we’ve accomplished, but because there’s a wideness in God’s mercy, like the wideness in the sea, and because the love of God is broader than the measures of the mind.
So let’s encourage one another and the world. Through prayers, cards, phone calls. Through the giving of money to the church and other organizations that are caring for those in need, working for justice, proclaiming God’s love. Through our Friday evening vigil (5:30-6:30) on the corner of Lincoln and Greene. Through inviting people to church! Encouragement to do what we need to do to keep each other safe; encouragement in the face of health or family difficulties; encouragement in a time of physical isolation and loneliness. Acknowledging, with gratitude, the victories, and holding forth the vision of the Reign of God. A kingdom of peace and love which is at hand.
Grace and Peace,