UM Advocacy: Standing for the Most Vulnerable
The naysayers' responses are all too predictable.
Nearly every time United Methodist Advocacy in Pennsylvania takes a public position on an issue before lawmakers or the governor, I get phone calls and emails saying we have no business telling them what they should do.
Some folks say we only question our leaders because conservative Republicans are in charge and we are all liberal Democrats who want to make the GOP look bad. Others say by speaking out we are trespassing over the boundary between church and state. And still others complain that our positions are sometimes simply not realistic in a world painted with all kinds of shades of grey.
Let's deal with the first complaint - that we are really political partisans. Our role is one of speaking truth to power, and to educate United Methodists as individuals and congregations to do the same. Rocking the boat is not an easy thing to do.
We're equal opportunity offenders as far as Pennsylvania politicians are concerned. During the last legislative session when Democrats were in charge of most of Harrisburg, they were unhappy with our strong and sometimes loud opposition to the expansion of gambling. We called on Gov. Rendell to find better ways to fund government than through gambling: a loser's proposition.
In this session, with Republicans in charge of literally everything in Harrisburg, we're up front about our concerns for Pennsylvania's most vulnerable citizens - the sick, the very young and very old, the homeless and the hungry. We stand with them, and offer a voice for those who often have no voice in the halls of power.
No offense to our current or any of our previous governors, but there are days when I yearn for Jesus as governor. If Christian activist Shane Claiborne can say Jesus is his president, then I think it's okay for me to say Jesus is my governor, too.
Jesus makes it simple for we Christians, and for those of us who are United Methodist Christians, our Wesleyan DNA calls us to respond.
During this Holy Week, as we deal with Christ's trial, suffering, death, and resurrection, it's important to examine our response to his call to serve. In Matthew 25 Jesus tells us we will be someday judged by our response to those who are hungry, thirsty, homeless, needing clothes, sick, or in prison.
When asked, Jesus said, "I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me-you did it to me." (Matt. 25: 40 The Message)
When we look away from the hungry, the homeless, those needing clothes, the sick, or those who are in prison, we are looking away from the light of our world, looking away from the one who is about to sacrifice his life for ours.
Our complex world makes it difficult to see issues and answers in simple terms. But as we pray, and study, Jesus has a way of stripping away the machinations and putting the facts right before us, and then saying with great clarity, "Follow me."
Have a blessed Easter,