I am a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Religion is a vocation deeply embedded in the history of my ancestors and I come from clergy blood on both sides of my family. Years ago I, like many of my forefathers, took an oath to conserve and uphold the traditions of the Church in all of my affairs. Part of the ministerial office requires truth telling about issues of morality and justice, what many of us refer to as the prophetic aspect of ministry. Like the prophets of old (Amos, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jesus), ministers of today are called to speak the truth in love, particularly if society is falling into corruption. We are called to be verbal red flags in the communities where we find ourselves, voicing alarm where the streets have been bruised and breeched, and voicing invitation for all those who are lost in sin to return to the loving presence of a grace that can always forgive and set free. This is only one aspect of our work but it is an important one. In all honesty, I believe many pastors go into this work because we have an extra sensitive ingrained sense of right and wrong and the Church is one of few public institutions that conserves and places a rite upon truth telling even at the cost of one’s life. This is certainly true in my case and the prophetic aspect of ministry has always felt most natural to me.
I am also in the second trimester of pregnancy, expecting my first child in the Spring of 2012. For the first time in my life I am looking at issues of right and wrong, morality and justice as one who will bring a child into the world. All of sudden the prophetic is sitting alongside the maternal. Whereas before the prophetic alarm would sound in the direction of particular issues or events in society, I now think much more about how these issues and events shape the thinking of children. For instance, as all of my friends and colleagues were scurrying to write letters on behalf of Troy Davis this week (a very important act in itself, make no mistake), I kept pondering how to explain to my child that the government feels justified in taking life. And when I heard the news about racist vandalism being smeared all over
this week, I thought about the children witnessing hateful language about their
own skin-color in their own neighborhood. Such things certainly qualify as domestic,
psychological terrorism. What does this do to the worldview of a seven year
old? Further, a report from the Battle Creek U.S.
census came out this week reporting that 23.5% of children under the age of 18
in the state of
are in poverty. When my child is in school and hears in history class the
recurring rhetoric of this nation being a place where anyone can make it, how
do I explain almost one of four kids crying of hunger pains at night? Michigan
Capital punishment has always mattered to me. As have racism and poverty. But what matters to me more than ever is that the single thread woven throughout all of these issues & events become more and more clear to all of us: life. The dignity of human life. When we think about the politicians we vote for, the churches we attend, the news stations we watch, the people we hang out with, the professional fields we go into, the words we use, the actions we take—perhaps the greatest litmus test of all is whether or not these things will shape the worldview of children to regard the dignity of human life.