Pictured: Rev. Christopher M. Lee with his wife, Brandy, and their daughters, Erin and Jordyn.
Siblings in Christ,
It has been almost one month since I officially began the call to serve as General Presbyter. In speaking with trusted friends and colleagues about the weight of this office, many of them said that it would be impossible for me to understand what it means to “sit in the chair” until I actually “sat in the chair.”
I confess that this chair feels as if it were a bottomless abyss, considering the tragic mass shooting in Nashville last week. My heart grieves, my soul laments, and I am angry. Systems which supposedly value human dignity are clearly broken. Sadly, trust in these systems is clearly eroding, and I fear things will only get worse.
I felt compelled to immediately address this horrific event, yet also felt it necessary to wait, to pause, and to carefully consider an appropriate response. This response challenged me in two distinct ways. First, I believe this office requires that I speak boldly and bear witness to God’s desire for mercy and justice, in every season, on behalf of Grace Presbytery. In my role, I am also aware of the reality that I do not speak for every single member of the presbytery; I simply cannot.
The other challenging aspect I face is the idea of our church body needing to craft a statement in the first place. I am not a big believer in statements, for I do not believe the church needs to make another statement. We already have a “statement.” The statement is the cross.
In word and deed, Jesus’ life and ministry serve as the bedrock of our cause. The clear call to do justice and love kindness asks a question of us all. When will enough be enough?
When will enough be enough?
If the cross is our guide, we do not need to craft another statement; we should be, as Jesus once said as a small child, focused on “being about our Father’s business.”
Holy Week is an excellent reminder about the nature of God’s business. God doesn’t simply express love, God would go to hell and back to prove it. Are we really tired of watching children and teachers murdered in classrooms? Our ministries, programs, social action, and peaceful resistance will reflect our level of fatigue, or lack thereof.
Instead of worrying about what we say, may our focus shift to what we do.
As we consider meaningful action in the days ahead, please remember that we are all siblings in Christ. We need each other. I am certain there are many differing opinions among us relative to gun control, school safety, law enforcement, and mental illness. I know these conversations can be difficult. I have witnessed and taken part in conversations that offend our political and theological sensitivities. My hope is that we are even more offended by what we witnessed in Nashville.
I believe the cross compels us to stand together, despite our earthly differences, and fervently urge those in power to work towards meaningful change.
I am willing to stand with you.
I am willing to stand with you. My prayer is that we stand together, as one body, united in Christ.
As I reflect on the grief and anger in our hearts, I am reminded of an angry Jesus in the temple courts. We are not used to seeing an angry Jesus, but He was clearly upset as He drove out the moneychangers and toppled their tables. In the coming days, we may rightfully feel emboldened to walk into our churches, presbytery offices, polling locations, legislative halls, and courtrooms ready and willing to flip some tables.
In our faithful and peaceful pursuit of justice, I encourage us to remember this:
Jesus flipped tables, not people.
Jesus flipped systems, not people.
Jesus flipped hearts, not people.
May we be people of peace, people of love, and people of action.
Yours in Christ,
Rev. Christopher M. Lee