“We are living in a generation where people think that [people of faith] are redundant. But we know what we do. We eat, sleep, and drink service… we need to collect data on the many hours of service that we give to our community…it’s time for us to stand up, to roll out the data to the city, the province, and Ottawa and show that we deserve a voice.” – Glen Pearson
Tonight I was pleased to attend the Soup and Sandwich Dinner in support of the Daily Bread Food Bank. This annual event raised funds for this very important program in the city of London. The guest speaker was Glen Pearson who is Director of the London Food Bank. Glen gave a very impassioned speech about our need to ‘talk the walk.’ He made a strong case for people of faith to find a voice to speak to power and let those who are in power know the level of work that people of faith are doing in our communities. Glen pointed out that we need to speak up about what we are doing to help others not because of pride or a need to brag. Quite the opposite. We need to speak up because we are being disregarded and our voice is largely unheard. We need to find a voice to talk about our walk. He pointed out that the room was full of people who had become quite adept at walking the walk. The trouble is we are taught to not speak up about what we are doing because we have learned humility.
I thought his address to the room full of people was fantastic. Upon returning home I picked up Robin Meyers the book I have been reading. Its title is, Saving Jesus from the Church. (I love reading on this iPad by the way).
It occurred to me as I read more of this book that there was much to think about given what I had heard from Glean earlier tonight. Meyers writes, “Indeed, a quick glance around this broken world makes it painfully obvious that we don’t need more arguments on behalf of God; we need more people who live as if they are in covenant with Unconditional Love, which is our best definition of God. This is so very true. In the context of ‘talking the walk’ it would seem to me that we need to become more adept at find articulate and intelligent ways to communicate the progressive message of Jesus whose life was defined by love. We need to find a voice that articulates the many ways in which the people of God in progressive churches that have seen the need to live the social gospel and have come to understand that being a Christian is a pilgrims’ way. Faith is a journey, not a destination. The best definition of God is indeed a radical acceptance of Unconditional Love. In the words of Meyers, “If the church is to survive as a place where head and heart are equal partners in faith, then we will need to commit ourselves once again not to the worship of Christ, but to the imitation of Jesus. His invitation was not to believe, but to follow.” Glen Pearson rightly pointed out this evening that Jesus was not shy about finding a voice for those who were voiceless. Meyers makes clear that we have become so engrossed with following Christ that we forget that the pilgrimage that we make from baptism forward is following the One who cared enough to speak truth to power and to do so, on behalf of a community of faith.
That being said, we also know that it becomes easy for law makers to disregard us when what they know of us is a loud a narrow-minded group who argue a lot about what we believe and judge those who cannot fit the mold of ‘right belief.’ How is it that those concerned with right morality, and right belief have the mic all the time? When will we stand and sing? Meyers writes, “Contemporary Christians have declared war on individual immorality but seem remarkably silent about the evil of systems, especially corporate greed and malfeasance. Glen Pearson as he wound up tonight said, “We need to unfold our hearts – that we might show people what we do. We need to sing our experience” Amen Glen! AMEN! We need to let the powers that be know what we DO. Not what we believe.
There were a couple of questions from the floor that seemed to indicate that we, as a people, have lost our voice due to a loss of religion in schools and because of globalization and its resultant pluralism. Glen responded that we need to find ways to cooperate with other faith partners. He suggested that the place to begin is where we have commonality. I would like to echo those words and suggest that Meyers is right when he asserts that we really ought to become concerned much more about who we are, how we live, and what we do as followers. Our obsession with what we believe is keeping us divided from others, irrelevant to lawmakers, and missing the mark of where Jesus calls us to be. Jesus call to those who followed in Galilee was experiential. That call for us today continues to be experiential. The church which is calling for justice for those who suffer needs to speak of its experience. We need to find a way to do what Glen Pearson suggests. Let us collect the data of our lived experience with the poor and speak to our municipal governments, our provincial governments, and the federal government. Let us tell them we deserve a voice. Let us make known to them that we are not all a people who are wrapped up in arguments about human sexuality and proper creeds…are we?
Let us find that voice to articulate the experience of our faith.