Bishop Douglas J. Fisher of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts has some advice for churches and Christians in the current political climate. In a provocatively-titled piece, he offers “some practical ways to stay Christ-centered in this era.”
Specifically, the bishop recommends more time in prayer, and less watching the news; making friends across the political divide; fostering interfaith worship; and replacing the Nicene Creed with the Baptismal Covenant at every Sunday liturgy.
The Creed gets covered in the first three questions and then we are asked five questions about our commitment to a Christ-centered life. We need an affirmative answer to all five questions, and especially now, we need the last two:
“Will you seek and serve Christ in ALL persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?”
“Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?” With God’s help, we can do that.
Fisher compares these questions to the ones to which he responded as he was ordained a bishop, especially this one:
“Will you be merciful to all, show compassion to the poor and strangers, and defend those who have no helper?”
The answer to all the questions is “I will…” but always followed by a different clause. Sometimes, it is, “I will, for the love of God.” Or, “I will, by the grace given me.” For me, the answer to that question has become, “I will, for the sake of Christ Jesus.”
For the sake of Christ Jesus. A Christ-centered life means standing with the poor, the stranger (immigrants, refugees) and those who have no helper (those without health insurance, the environment). There are others that fit into my parentheses. Those who are discriminated against: women, people of color, indigenous people, LGBT people, Muslims. Those who have lost jobs due to automation, down-sizing and technological advancements. Those who cannot get jobs because they are experiencing homelessness or because they were once incarcerated. Those who are addicted who wind up in jail instead of rehab.
I was the one who answered the question, but as a faith leader I was answering for all of us. Calling elected officials, participating in the political process, engaging the American right to peacefully protest in order to stand with “those who have no helper”- we do this for the sake of Christ Jesus.
Read Bishop Fisher’s blog here. Do you have recommendations of your own for remaining Christ-centered in a polarized and politically contentious era?