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Bishop Fairley Speaks on the Capital Violence

posted on January 08

I have read countless statements and watched the media analysis of what happened in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday. Our United Methodist bishops speak eloquently of truths that have long needed spoken, but there are moments when it seems our words ring hollow and empty. Amid the evil, hatred, and injustice that would lead us down paths of violence, we must not only speak or write eloquent statements, we must act and live with each other differently. 
I confess that my soul is burdened, my spirit is weary, and my heart is broken. My eyes weep tears filled with lamentations caused by the vitriolic hatred born from the rhetoric of division, polarization, mistrust and insurrection, weeping long before the breach of our nation’s Capitol.

For too long, we have been divided religiously, politically, socially, economically, and racially. We have all, both explicitly and implicitly, played a role in laying the groundwork for the division we are seeing in our world, our communities, and the streets of our cities. Even now, attempts are being made to change the narrative, to justify or soften the evil and violence we just witnessed.
Violence can never be justified by narratives. However, there is hope. On Sunday morning, we will give voice, even virtually, to a different narrative, a narrative born from the waters of our baptism:

“Do you renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness, reject the evil powers of this world, and repent of your sins? Do you accept the freedom and power God gives you to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they presented themselves? Do you confess Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, put your whole trust in his grace and promise to serve his as your Lord, in union with the church which Christ has opened to people of all ages, nations, and races?”
                                                - United Methodist Baptismal Covenant
We must give voice to another narrative, not from elected officials, not from the news media, not from social media, but a narrative born from a common table where all God’s children are welcomed: 

“Christ our Lord invites to his table all who love him, who earnestly repent of their sins and seek to live in peace with another.” - United Methodist Service of Word and Table

We give voice to a narrative spoken in the St. Francis Prayer:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Lord have mercy, and remind us of who we are and whose we are as passionate spiritual disciples called to transform the world, making disciples who live different narratives than the ones we have seen played out by our political and religious leaders. 

Please, pastors, as you gather in whatever venue you will gather on Sunday, remind your flock of their calling and the narrative from which they are called to serve and live even in these dark times. Remember your baptism and be thankful.   

In Christ,
Bishop Fairley