There's Nothing Radical About Moral Clarity
"There's Nothing Radical About Moral Clarity."
- Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
A few weeks ago, I had the honor of traveling to Washington D.C. to visit my mentor and friend Rev. Wayne Jenkins, who I worked for as an intern while at Baylor. We attended the Festival of Homiletics at the historic Metropolitan AME Church, which is a fancy way to say it was a nerdy preacher's conference. The theme of this year's festival was Preaching and Politics and some of my favorite speakers included Father Richard Rohr, Karoline Lewis, Walter Brueggemann, and Senators Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker. Throughout the week, I had the opportunity to learn and engage with faith and civic leaders from across the country who are inspiring moral movements in their communities to encourage people to persist in the struggle for human rights, equal treatment, and moral clarity in public life.
On Thursday night, as Wayne and I joined the nearly 1,500 ministers and faith leaders in a silent march toward the White House, I felt a shift of hope within my own mind and spirit. I heard a prominent journalist say this week, "This is really a hopeless time." And I'll be the first to admit that I too feel like each new week deals another blow to my morale. When children are separated from their families because of deliberate cruelty, while many of our nation's leaders remain silent or use Bible verses to defend destructive policies, it's tough to remain hopeful. When labor unions and worker's rights are threatened and an unjust ban is upheld to intentionally prevent a person from traveling into the U.S. based on his or her religion, it's difficult to remember as Christians we are members of a beloved community rooted in the hope of Christ. It's important for us all to be reminded that the grace, righteousness, and justice of the God of the universe is more powerful than demonstrably malicious actions of temporary officials. We must trust that the mercy of Christ and the love created by the blessed and broken community will outlast the injustices we encounter.
When our protest arrived on the sidewalk of the White House, the elders and ecumenical leaders from across the nation read a confession of faith to speak to our moment that groans for a moral correction supporting the poor, marginalized and outcast. As the elders read aloud the statement, I remembered once again the important theological and civic work that we are all called to as followers of Jesus: to love God and love our neighbor. This radical love is simple, and yet, we should not be surprised that this love is perhaps just as unpopular today as it was for Jesus because a love that is a fight for the marginalized is a threat to the powerful. Demanding safety for children, protections for immigrants as people, healthcare as a human right, a living wage for work, freedom of religion, care for our elderly, or education for our youth may sound radical, but there's nothing radical about moral clarity. So, as we walk through the dark of the night, may find hope in the simple flicker of our candles and be encouraged as we gaze out toward our sisters and brothers who are lighting up the night for God's justice here and now.