What do we do now?

I want to start this by thanking so many of you – for your words of support, whether it be through comments on here, twitter, or facebook. This was an action I only took knowing the church was with me – from leadership in Elgin to local pastors in the Washington, DC area. And to hear from so many of you … it is when we speak with each other, through one another, and together that we have a voice that makes a difference.

It was a powerful experience – to kneel in prayer in the Rotunda of the Capitol building, and pray that the decisions made in that building would reflect the values of the faith that so many hold dear. That the Holy Spirit would fill that place, and move our decision makers to seek to make this world more in accordance with the will of God – and to stand where God stands, caring for the poor and feeding the hungry. And then to be arrested for doing that very thing – with 10 other persons of faith.

Many have asked me whether or not I think the arrests yesterday of 11 people of faith made a difference. There has certainly been a lot of press attention to the actions taken. From the Huffington Post, to the New York Times, to ABC News, and many, many more – the word certainly got out about the actions. Combine that with the attention building around the daily prayer vigils, which continued today, and will continue next week, and it would seem that our country is certainly paying attention to what the church is saying.

But this still leaves the question of whether or not this will shift the debate in Washington – one that seems to only want to ask communities that have no more to give to sacrifice to get our fiscal house in order (which does need to happen). Whether it be the hungry through cuts to SNAP, God’s Creation by stripping funding for the Clean Water Act, or those in poverty around the world by slashing food aid – these seem to be the only communities actually being asked to give.

The reality is the action I took yesterday will only have an impact if it has your backing. Your words of support to me have meant so much Рbut your Senators and Representatives need to hear them, too. There are so many ways you can weigh in. Send them an email, call their offices in DC, or, and this one would have the most impact, visit their local offices (they are listed on their websites). No matter where you go, the message is that we cannot bring our fiscal house in order as a nation on the backs of the poor and vulnerable around the world. We need to consider increasing revenue and cutting security and military spending, too. The poor and vulnerable have no more to give. Or, just let them know that you are holding them in prayer as they consider what God would have them do.  Check out the NCC Poverty Initiative for more resources. BUT THEY NEED TO HEAR FROM YOU. It is time for all people of faith to speak up, and to take action, and seek to live in a nation that reflects our values. What we spend our money on goes a long way toward determining what those values are.

Peace in the Marketplace

“While refugees go homless
and die before they live,
while children have no future –
our apathy forgive!
Where hope fades to drperession,
despair erodes the soul,
restore in us a passion
to make the broken whole.”

– From Great God of Earth and Heaven

Those words were part of a hymn we sang during closing prayers yesterday – marking the end of a day that may see the most difficult conversations for US participants – peace in the marketplace. To hear stories of what our economic vitality has brought to the rest of the world – environmental degradation, exploitation of workers, and colonialist economics … it is hard to hear that the way in which we live, the products which we choose to buy, the stocks our pension funds invest in – pretty much everything which economically sustains our lives – wreaks havoc on the rest of the world.

If we are to be a church that seeks peace, we must address the way in which we interact with the world in the marketplace. And not just our governments – it is about the individual decisions we all make. It might be a little more expensive, it might take a little more time and research, but we can make good decisions in the consumer marketplace that support fair wages and treatment of workers around the world, that support not exploiting resources, and more. And when we start to speak through our decisions, the government will start to take notice.

We prayed these words last night:

“This evening we remember before God the people of the world who hunger and thirst for justice and peace, for bread and dignity. And we hold up before God the peacemakers who build harmony and right relationships after the pattern of The One who has made peace by the blood of His cross, even Jesus our Liberator and Redeemer.”

May we be those peacemakers.