Wordless and Weary Leadership
Jan 8, 2021
In our staff team meeting yesterday, the weight of this week’s events on Capitol Hill made us all quieter than usual. For a group of pastors, it was a rather unusual time of wordlessness. Wordlessness born of weariness. In true Micah Groups fashion, though, our meeting became a sacred space for courageous conversation that was both balm and buoy.
We left that meeting understanding that we each have a role to play as leaders, despite a lack of words or energy or wisdom. As agents of Christ’s Kingdom, each and every one of us has a role to play in our individual spheres—whether a church, an office, a neighborhood, or a family. This means we must resist the temptation to let this week go by as just another in a long, long line of tragedies, holding our breath until it becomes a footnote in history. Instead, we can use this time to help our communities reckon with what has brought us here, confess and repent for our own complicity, and reorient ourselves around our God of Justice, who is able to do exceedingly, abundantly more than all we could ask or even imagine…according to the power that is at work within us (Ephesians 3:20).
And so, we offer to you these meager words as an act of worship—confessing weariness, lamenting in grief and anger, calling out evil, and above all else, giving praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation.
Blessings and Peace,
Rev. Dr. Jennifer Ackerman
Director, Ogilvie Institute of Preaching
Brehm Center | Fuller Theological Seminary
Ascribe to the Lord, O heavenly beings,
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
Ascribe to the Lord the glory of his name;
worship the Lord in holy splendor.
The voice of the Lord is over the waters;
the God of glory thunders,
the Lord, over mighty waters.
The voice of the Lord is powerful;
the voice of the Lord is full of majesty.
I am deeply saddened and deeply pained by such unruly displays of anarchy by those who breached and unlawfully entered the Congressional Chamber. I struggle to find words to speak on the mob attack on the United States Capital. The questions are many. Is it over? Will there be more outrageous attacks? Who is God calling us to be in these challenging times? What are the Biblical principles that guide our path? What ancient tools and wisdom have been provided to help us navigate these challenges?
I would prefer to say nothing at all. But as a faith leader in these times, I join a long line of people of faith who are waiting for us to participate in building a brave new world. The writer of Hebrews 12:1-2 reminds me, “Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses . . . let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.”
So, facing this institutional breach at the exhausting point of a ten months long quarantine from a crippling, deadly virus, few are those who can easily and accurately address the times through which we’re assigned to persevere. In light of this public assault on our collective source of government, I look to the perfecter of my faith through prayer. I take solace in and share the following offering out of the Book of Common Prayer:
44. IN TIMES OF SOCIAL CONFLICT OR DISTRESS
“Increase, O God, the spirit of neighborliness among us, that in peril we may uphold one another, in suffering tend to one another, and in homelessness, loneliness, or exile befriend one another. Grant us brave and enduring hearts that we may strengthen one another, until the disciplines and testing of these days are ended, and you again give peace in our time; through Jesus Christ our Lord.“
May we daily reorient ourselves to Christ and his Kingdom, no matter what the day brings!
May each breath we take be an intake of more Grace and a fresh release of Peace!
Rev. Dr. Joy Johnson
The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars;
the Lord breaks the cedars of Lebanon.
He makes Lebanon skip like a calf,
and Sirion like a young wild ox.
The voice of the Lord flashes forth flames of fire.
The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness;
the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.
The voice of the Lord causes the oaks to whirl,
and strips the forest bare;
and in his temple all say, “Glory!”
Like so many people watching the news on Wednesday, I was overwhelmed with emotion. Much of it was anger and disgust—at the lies of the president and his enablers; at the blasphemous signs taking my Lord’s name in vain; at the disturbingly disparate treatment by the police of this insurrectionist mob versus those who protested for the sake of Black lives last summer. Four years of lies, abuse of power, and demonizing those who thought differently; four years of dog-whistle appeal to white supremacists have resulted in this moment. No one should have been surprised, although plenty of our political leaders were.
But if I may be honest, my deeper, greater disappointment is with our American Christianity. So much of what we have been witnessing in U.S. politics is theological—it is no coincidence that banners declaring “Jesus is my savior and Trump is my president” were being waved Wednesday. This conflation of white Christian nationalism with the Kingdom of God has a much longer and disturbing history than the past four years, but it is undeniably at the root of what we have seen this week.
Yes, there are those who are unapologetically complicit in this—there is no reasoning to be done here. But to the rest who knew better and remained silent, or hushed the clear condemnation of white supremacy in our churches for the sake of “unity,” to those who keep insisting on “both sides”—you are responsible for this too. We can still respond with confession and repentance, or we can deny that we had anything to do with it. As gross as it is, we need to see those blasphemous banners and recognize something of what we have sown.
Here is my one hopeful epiphany this week: I want to be part of a church that simply and clearly proclaims what Jesus taught and lived about truth, justice, and mercy. I want to be part of a church that doesn’t cheapen peacemaking, nor the notion of Christian unity. As a church leader, I must play a role in nurturing this church, no matter how small. That’s what I heard God call me to this week.
Rev. Dr. Jin Cho
The Lord sits enthroned over the flood;
the Lord sits enthroned as king forever.
May the Lord give strength to his people!
May the Lord bless his people with peace!
An Epiphany of Hope and Justice
“The still deeper sorrow for me as a Christian leader has been the accompanying desecration of Christian life and speech revealed through fundamentalist and evangelical entanglement with idolatrous nationalism and racism and their attending loyalties.”
Read more from President Mark Labberton, Fuller Seminary President.