July-August Message from the Pastor
Woe to you who make unjust policies and draft oppressive legislation, who deprive the powerless of justice and rob poor people—my people—of their rights, who prey upon the widowed and rob orphans. (Isaiah 10: 1-2)
Yesterday I was invited to a lunch with one of my greatest (s)heroes of the church, Sister Simone Campbell. You might remember Sister Simone by her leadership of the Nuns on the Bus pilgrimage across the U.S. in 2012 and 13, raising awareness about cuts in programs for the poor and working families in the federal budget that was passed by the House of Representatives, and on immigration reform. She also gave testimony to her faith at both the 2012 and 2016 Democratic National Conventions. An attorney and Roman Catholic member of the Sisters of Social Service for fifty years, Sister Simone is also Executive Director of Network, an organization that focuses its efforts on lobbying in the areas of economic justice, immigration reform, healthcare, peace-making and the environment. Sister Simone was in Tucson to hear testimony about what changes proposed by Congress regarding health care coverage would mean to regular folks outside of Washington.
As part of her whirlwind tour of Tucson, I was fortunate to be asked to join a small group of clergy for lively conversation over lunch. She is what I would call, a Holy Bad-ass, following closely in Jesus’ own footsteps. I was amazed that despite having faced vilification from her enemies and persecution from Rome, she maintains a buoyant joyfulness, a keen wit, and a deep well of spiritual strength. She’s on the road constantly, networking across the nation to listen to people’s stories and inspire civic action that supports the well-being of all people.
She was moved when she heard of Rincon’s decision to provide hospitality to vulnerable and at risk people in our community and beyond. “It’s all connected” she said. “All of our ministries are connected.”
Later in the day, I was honored to speak at a rally at St. Elizabeth’s Health Center with Sister Simone and crowds of people who came to speak with her about the congressional health care bill that would radically reduce coverage for millions of vulnerable and at risk people in our country. We began with the quote above from the prophet Isaiah, remembering that ours is a faith that attends to the well-being of all people. I was “volunteered” to be the clergy representative who spoke, with about one minute’s notice before I was supposed to take the stage. I just followed along in Sister Simone’s wake, trusting I’d be given the words when I needed them. And I was. I left feeling awe and gratitude for Sister Simone and the ways in which we are church beyond our walls, by how God shows up at odd moments, especially when hope is running out, and by the movement begun by a poor migrant carpenter, that continues today to bring God’s Good News through actions to save lives, as well as souls.
May we, as we make our way into summer, take a page from the page of Sister Simone and the Nuns on the Bus book, to stand with people made-poor and disenfranchised. As we come together as a nation to celebrate Independence Day on July 4, may we remember that our deepest call as Christians is into relationships of interdependence, loving God with all our hearts, minds and souls, and loving our neighbors as ourselves. It is only through this vast web of interconnectedness that we both receive and bestow the gift of God’s Good News. None of us is free until all of us are free.
What does the world we long for look like? This weekend I invite you to look beyond the festivities to notice who among us is not free? Who is being exploited, abused, and/or oppressed? Who is being denied their humanity? Who or what might be terrorized by those loud noises and explosions of color? Who is living in abject fear at the thought of losing healthcare for coverage? Yes, celebrate your freedom, and then get up on July 5th and fight for freedom for all.
I hope part of your celebration and reflections will include worship in Rincon’s sanctuary this Sunday, July 2nd. We need each other to survive. We need each other to thrive.
Read the Thursday E-letter for July 27, 2017 here.