By Hannah Shanks
I need you to say something.
I know it’s hard for you, too. I know you’re being gaslighted and abused like the rest of us.
But in this relationship, you’re the elder. You have more power. You have hundreds, if not thousands of years’ experience. I only have 28. My son only two. My grandmother, 95.
All of us need you to say something. The bully on the playground has grown up to be the bully in the White House. He and his administration are big. They are bigger than me and my health care access. They are bigger than my refugee neighbors, who you taught me to love. They are bigger than my grandmother, who you’d recognize from the parable of the persistent widow.
They are bigger than all of the vulnerable in our midst, and they are running on the power of fear. But you, O Church, are bigger than they are. You are tough. You are resurrection people. You are global. You are eternal.
You are bigger than them, and we need you to show up.
You taught me our scriptures. You taught me “greater love hath no man than this: that he lay down his life for his friends.” You taught me “the greatest of these is love.” You taught me “perfect love casts out fear.”
And the thing is, I believe you. I believe you.
But please, please. Can you show me? Can you show up? Can you say something?
I know you see what’s happening. You see the cemeteries and centers of our Jewish brothers and sisters and siblings attacked. The message? Your bodies and memories are never safe.
You see our brothers and sisters and siblings of color, of non-Christian faith, killed. Delayed. Denied. The message? You are not us, so you are not human.
You see trans students caught in crosshairs over bathrooms, as though it were about bathrooms or safety rather than their mere existence in our shared reality. You see this bathroom war in the same way you saw “white” and “colored” water fountains – it’s not about the bathrooms, and it wasn’t about the fountains. That’s where your experience comes in. You’ve seen this before. Can’t you help now?
The worst is that this is happening in your name. They say you agree, that this is what you want. That this is how you believe the world should look.
But when we’re alone together, that’s not what you tell me.
You tell me you like us. You say we should hang out more. You say you really love having me and my family around. But when we’re in public, you’re nowhere to be found.
When I’m at your house, you say love. You say peace. You say the way we are at your house is how we’re always called to be.
How come we can’t ever meet in public? Don’t you want to be seen with me?
You say I can’t be ashamed of you because that means I’m ashamed of Christ. But Christ and I sang and cried in the street last week. Does that not count? Does it not count because your pulpit doesn’t have wheels? If that’s the reason you weren’t there, we could probably borrow one from Saturday Night Live’s Sean Spicer set.
Whatever will help, I’ll get it for you. I mean it. I just need you to show up.
Say something. Say it loud and brave. Say it even though your voice shakes. Say it even though you feel like you’re pushing too far. Say it from the pulpit and from the podcast and the potluck. Say it on the marquee and the facebook ad and the bulletin. Say it even though it feels “too political.”
Christ didn’t move. Maybe politics did. And hell, say it no matter which party holds office!
Say something because perfect love casts out fear, even fear of confrontation.
Say something because perfect love casts out fear, even fear of being wrong or complicating relationships.
Say something because perfect love casts out fear, even fear of financial insolvency if a big donor walks away because you got “too political.”
Say something because greater love hath no Church than this: than they risk their budget to set the record straight on God’s love for the poor, the foreign, the sick, the imprisoned.
If that is what kills you, then rejoice in your good death, and recall that we are a resurrection people. But please. Say something.
Because they say they’re doing all of this for you.
I don’t believe them.
But every moment you’re silent in public, every moment they hand you these “gifts” and you don’t refuse and rebuke them…
I start to believe them, and doubt you.
You might not win. You might even die for speaking. But you know what?
Greater love hath no one than this…
You taught me that. Let me believe you.
Learn more about Hannah Shanks on her website.
Photo Attribution credit to Andrew Butitta, Flickr.