A Threefold Response To a Fourfold Crisis
Faith In Action, the national community organizing network of which LABC is a part, gives people of faith the tools they need to fight for justice and work towards a more equitable society. The leaders of the network recently defined our current time as a time of a fourfold crisis: medical/health-care, economic, political and moral.
In the face of this fourfold crisis the Faith In Action affiliates are being urged to organize and advocate for governmental policies at the local, state and national levels that will bring relief to suffering communities, help them to recover and ultimately aid in the re-construction of a more just society.
One does not have to be connected directly to Faith in Action to find the description of the fourfold crisis to be accurate and the three step process of relief, recovery and re-construction to be instructive. While affirming these, it is important to understand the unique ways in which analysis and action comes from, and is enacted by, faith communities.
While faith communities are not the only sources insightful analysis and meaningful action we bring histories, traditions, perspectives, values, stories and connections to the work that others do not. This is particularly true of our response to the current pandemic.
Other communities – scientific, academic, business and political – are often better versed in the science, the economics, the logistics, the delivery systems and the political strategies that will help us face the current crises. However, faith communities, Christian and non-Christian alike, bring needed gifts to the table in ways beautiful, inspiring and enduring. We bring values to the work in ways that are unique and powerful.
In the soaring teaching that is I Corinthians 13 Paul reminds us that, as followers of The Christ, we bring three gifts to the table in every situation, the gifts of faith, hope and love. These gifts are not commodities we have acquired. Rather, they are actions that shape our being and thus benefit the communities in which we live and the partners with whom we labor.
We do faith. We do hope. We do love. These are our central identities, our highest calls, our unique contributions to our communities as we respond together to the health-care crisis, the economic crisis, the political crisis and the moral crisis that is upon us. The words of Peter, recorded in the Book of Acts, to the paralytic outside the Temple in Jerusalem are fitting, “I have no silver or gold, but what I have I give you.”
We do faith. Longtime Baptist leader Bob Tiller suggests that is better of speak of “faithing” than having faith. He writes, “Faithing means trying to follow the example and teachings of Jesus, trying to grow in discipleship. Faithing means attempting to live each day with values that embrace the sacredness of all creation.”
We do hope. We respond to the suffering of the world not with the explanations like “Even though we don’t understand it, God allowed COVID-19 to beset us. Everything happens for a reason,” but with the hope that God will work through us to squeeze good out of the crisis. We do hope by sharing a vision of re-creation.
We do love. We do love in the public arena by demanding that ICE enact policies that protects its detainees and its employees from the coronavirus. We do love, as one member of our congregation did, in private ways by making 50 face-masks and riding her bike 3 miles one evening to distribute them to people gathered in the parking lot of a local church where homeless families are invited to park, have a meal, take a shower and sleep in their cars.
We live in a time of crisis – medical, economic, political and moral. We have resources that enable relief, recovery and reconstruction. We have gifts that our uniquely ours to offer – faithing, hoping and loving.
Pastor, Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church, Oakland, CA
“A Time To Connect” meets today at noon. “A Time For Prayer’ meets tomorrow morning at 10:00. Zoom worship is Sunday at 10:00. BYOBB (Bring Your Own Bread and Beverage) Communion will be celebrated.