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The Church Must Cry Out

By November 14, 2016 2 Comments
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By Brian Keepers

Over the weekend, I worked on two different reflections for my post today. But when I arose early this morning to decide on which to go with, I realized that neither felt right. Deb Reinstra quoted Lear in her raw and honest post on Saturday: “The weight of this sad time we must obey; speak what we feel and not what we ought to say.”

But nearly a week after the election results, as the reality of a Trump presidency is sinking in, I’m still struggling to speak what I feel. Or how to speak at all. I’m not sure that, as a white male who reluctantly self-identifies as an evangelical, my voice is the voice that most needs to be heard right now. That’s part of the problem. There’s been too much of voices like mine (white evangelical men), and at the same time not enough when it seemed to really count.

More than speaking, I feel like now is a time for me to listen. So this is what I’ve been doing over the last six days: listening, practicing empathy, trying my best to enter into solidarity with those who most feel the crushing weight of sorrow and fear in the wake of this election and all that is unfolding.

Don’t get me wrong. I will speak up, and I have. I will not stay silent. But for now, I want to join my voice with the voices of others, voices that must be heard. Present voices on the margins who feel silenced, bullied, betrayed and injured. And also voices from the grave which cry out and refuse to let us alone.

One of those voices from the grave is Oscar Romero, the Archbishop of San Salvador who was martyred for his courageous leadership in 1980. Romero’s voice remains prophetic, disruptive, and beckons us to a better world. This past week, I pulled my copy of The Violence of Love off my book shelf and flipped through it, so many pages dog-geared and ink filling up the margins. In this space today, as I’m not sure what to say, let me offer some words from Romero that most struck me. May his be a voice of past wisdom that cries out from the grave, and gathers up our voices, as the church, to also cry out.

“For the church, the many abuses of human life, liberty, and dignity are a heartfelt suffering. The church, entrusted with the earth’s glory, believes that in each person is the Creator’s image and that everyone who tramples it offends God. As holy defender of God’s rights and of his images, the church must cry out. It takes as spittle in its face, as lashes on its back, as the cross in its passion, all that human beings suffer, even though they be unbelievers. They suffer as God’s images. There is no dichotomy between man and God’s image. Whoever tortures a human being, whoever abuses a human being, whoever outrages a human being abuses God’s image, and the church takes as its own that cross, that martyrdom. “

“The church must suffer for speaking the truth, for pointing out sin, for uprooting sin. No one wants to have a sore spot touched, and therefore a society with so many sores twitches when someone has the courage to say: “You have to treat that. You have to get rid of that. Believe in Christ. Be converted.”

“Those who, in the biblical phrase, would save their lives—that is, those who want to go along, who don’t want commitments, who don’t want to get into problems, who want to stay outside of a situation that demands the involvement of all of us—they will lose their lives. What a terrible thing to have lived quite comfortably, with no suffering, not getting involved in problems, quite tranquil, quite settled, with good connections politically, economically, socially—lacking nothing, having everything. To what good? They will lose their lives.”

“Let us not tire of preaching love; it is the force that will overcome the world. Let us not tire of preaching love. Though we see that waves of violence succeed in drowning the fire of Christian love, love must win out; it is the only thing that can.”

Brian Keepers is the Minister of Preaching and Congregational Leadership at Fellowship Reformed Church in Holland, Michigan.

Brian Keepers

Brian Keepers is the lead pastor of Trinity Reformed Church in Orange City, Iowa.

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