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Sunday, September 19, 2021

This remains the same…

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This column is being written on Oct. 30. It will be submitted to the editor and will be prepared for publication. Between submission and publication, there’s a lot that has happened, among them Election Day and more.

But I know three things that are true on Oct. 30, when this was written, that will be true when this is published the first week of November. No matter what the results are — God still calls us to show up, speak up and stand up — we will still need to get in trouble, good trouble.  That will never change.

Show Up

We are still called to show up. Between submission and publication, the ancestors were honored when we showed up to vote. Social media timelines were filled with photos of people proudly flashing their voting stickers. People literally stood in line for hours, arriving before the polls opened and staying until they closed. Our African American ancestors paid and paved the way for the right to vote. Many of them lived out their Christian faith by advocating and sacrificing their lives so that we would have the right to vote. We are still called to show up no matter what the results are. We can never underestimate the ministry of presence. Showing up refers to our ability to remain committed to and consistent in our actions. Living in a state of multiple pandemics may affect physical but not virtual presence. Show up for spaces and places of conversation. Show up for opportunities to engage in dialogue. Show up to listen and to learn. One of the most effective ways for people to know that you are committed and care is simply when they see you are there. Show up as your best self.

Speak Up  

We are still going to have the responsibility to speak up. It’s not enough just to be present; we are called to speak. Proverbs 31:8-9 reminds us to “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” Each one of us are placed in unique spaces and places where we can make an impact. John Lewis reminded us, “When you see or hear something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have to speak up. You have to say something.” Recognize that there will always be an opportunity to speak, even if your voice shakes. This is an excerpt from one of the prayers in the “Book of Uncommon Prayers” that can guide us when we hear a not right, not fair, not just, “But no I can’t let those hideous words just hang in the air. So give me the courage to say something in response. Give me the wisdom to know what to say. Help me to speak the truth in love. The truth — not wielded like a weapon, but in love.” No matter what the election results are, we are still called to speak up.

We are still called to show up with the ministry of presence and amplify that presence and speak up with power.

Stand Up

We are called to show up and speak up, but it is not complete until we stand up. Standing up shows that what we say is followed up by our actions. Standing up calls us to face boldly the reactions to our presence and words. Micah 6:8 reminds us that loving others includes standing up for justice and remaining connected to God. “He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you except to be just, and to love [and to diligently practice] kindness (compassion), and to walk humbly with your God [setting aside any overblown sense of importance or self-righteousness]?” 

John Lewis wrote an essay shortly before his death and wanted it to be published on the day of his funeral. An excerpt: “I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe.” I believe that the same message holds for us today.

We will always have to Show Up, Speak Up and Stand Up.

No matter what … this remains the same … Just like Jesus. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8

Blessed to be a blessing to you,

Rev. Sheila P. Spencer

Rev. Sheila P. Spencer is an author, poet, teacher and preacher.  You can contact her at CustomMadeInspiration@gmail.com and her website is www.sheilapspencer.com. 

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