This is a time of heightened racist and patriarchal empire where wealth is concentrated at the top. The Living God asks us to make a decision: "Today I offer you the choice of life and good, or death and evil. ...Choose life." (Deuteronomy 30). Following Jesus today means choosing life, joining the Spirit-led struggle to fight the death-dealing powers of sin wherever they erupt. Whenever one of God’s children is being oppressed, we will fight with them for liberation with the power of the Holy and Life-Giving Spirit. And yet, we live in a moment when death and evil seem to reign supreme in the United States, when those with the power of a uniform or the president’s pen or a position of authority or fame or economic tricks of capitalization and interest or sheer brute force… again and again choose death rather than life. In a moment when too many who confess Christ advocate evil, we believe followers of the Jesus Way are called to renounce, denounce, and resist these death-dealing powers which organize and oppress our world, not to embrace or promulgate them.
Locally both the Pittsfield Area Council of Congregations (see: http://www. berkshireeagle.com/stories/rev-dr-james-l-lumsden-three-ways-to-strengthen our-ties-as-a-community,523082 and the Four Freedoms Coalition (see:
https://www.facebook.com/fourfreedomscoalition/) are adding their voices against the fear and madness. In anticipation of our January 7, 2018 Inter-Faith concert, "Sounds and Songs of Solidarity" I have tried to give clarity to our goal in bringing together Jews, Muslims, Christians and people of other faiths - and no faith - in a shared testimony against hatred.
First, our January 7, 2018 concert is not another folk music, sing-a-long, or broadly political event: rather, it is an interfaith jamboree of musicians, poets, dancers and visual artists that willing chooses to stand together in solidarity with our nation’s most vulnerable residents. Bringing together Muslims, Jews and Christians (and others) as public allies and advocates for immigrants and our communities of color documents at this moment in our shared history a clear alternative to the racism and cruelty of the Religious Right. This commitment will be at the core of the music, poetry and words shared on the January 7, 2018. My deepest hope is that we experience what a gentle unity looks like – and feels and sounds like, too - as soul food in the struggle for the Beloved Community.
Second, this event will be broadly inclusive rather than just a prayer song revival: by interweaving songs of faith with songs of challenge, blending the voices of one faith tradition with those from another, we will evoke a common song of respect. Ours must be a broadly humanist vision woven together in a tapestry of sound. Our witness to compassion and justice must be grounded in the core values of our faith traditions - and the better angels of our nation. Three texts stand out:
· Love and faithfulness will meet; justice and compassion will kiss. (Psalm 85)
· Love your neighbor as you love yourself. (Matthew 22)
· God invites you into the Home of Peace. (Quran – Jonah 10)
PACC also continues to find public ways of bringing wisdom and healing to a community wounded by racism, sexism and antisemitism. (More on this work in another post.) 2018 will call for a unity in resistance unlike anything we have faced in recent memory. I pray that we commit to linking our arms and opening our hearts so that the healing of the nation goes deep.