A Public Faith, Following Jesus

This past Sunday after worship, almost a dozen folks from my congregation gathered in the church library to hear about Beacon Interfaith Housing Collaborative, who are a church-started organization advocating for affordable housing in the Twin Cities. Then yesterday, I joined with others from Edina Morningside Church (above) to attend a training and press event by the statewide, multiracial and multi-faith group ISAIAH. We helped announce the Claiming Our Voices Faith Agenda, developed from house meetings with thousands of Minnesotans over the past three months. It names the top priorities of these faithful neighbors as we anticipate the 2018 election season, including a caring economy and a democracy that honors the God-given dignity of every person. Javen and I are joining with others across the state to be trained as “Faith Delegates”, taking these principles into the caucus and convention processes of both major parties. (You can sign up for trainings here, or join Javen and I at a Mayflower UCC one next Thursday night.) We’ll stand together across artificial partisan and geographic divisions, asking whoever would lead Minnesota in the coming years to hear the cry of God’s people for loving justice in every corner of the state.

Why do we do this? Why do we enter the public realm as people of faith, concerned about housing policy, affordable medical care, or an end to bitter partisanship? Simply put, Christians believe that God governs our whole lives and all people everywhere, not just those who happen to show up at a certain address for a couple hours on Sundays. We follow the Hebrew prophets and the example of Jesus, who does not recognize any part of life as “off limits” to divine care. Indeed, as we’ll hear again in this Sunday’s Scripture text, Jesus enters the Jerusalem temple–the heart of political, institutional and religious power in ancient Israel–to proclaim a different way. We pray “your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven”, and partner with God in our everyday actions to help make it so. Engaging the public realm as Christians first and partisans last, we can show Christ’s care for “the least of these” and help build a path beyond the bickering that has come to define the two major parties. This offers the joy of Christ’s love in ways that complement and extend the other areas of church life: worship inspiration, congregational care, faith formation and extravagant hospitality.

What do you think? While a blog post is a one-sided medium, I welcome your questions, comments, and feedback (whether praise or protest) below. Some of my favorite recent memories have been talking with church folks from across the political spectrum about these matters. Thanks for reading, responding, and sharing!

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