I want to share with you the incredible weekend that I just experienced. I spent the last 3 days in Washington, DC at a conference called Politics and Spirituality: Seeking a Public Integrity. It was a powerful experience and I feel compelled to try to articulate my thoughts and feelings about it in this place. I attended the conference with a few dear friends (Nancy, Neil and Shauna) and left with over 1600 new sisters and brothers. If I had to characterize the experience in one word, I would choose the word connection. During most of my adult life, I have tried to find a way to merge my evangelical Christian faith and my political belief system that would traditionally be labeled more liberal than conservative (see Neil’s blog for a good definition of evangelical.) As the Religious Right’s voice got louder, I wondered if I was the only Christian who just could NOT hear Jesus’s voice in their rhetoric. While the Religious Right did not represent my values, neither did secular liberalism address my faith. I chose to vote Democrat only because I could not bear to vote Republican. But I kept thinking to myself “Am I the only person that feels this way?” I found out this weekend that the answer to that question is an emphatic NO!
Over 1600 Christians from all over the country gathered in DC on this weekend when we remember Martin Luther King, Jr. and his legacy to us. We had the opportunity to hear 3 wonderful speakers address these questions of faith and politics. The speakers were Jim Wallis, author of God’s Politics: Why the Right Gets it Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It, Richard Rohr, a Franciscan priest, author of many books and found of the Center for Action and Contemplation and Anne Lamott, author of some of my favorite books including Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith. I was familiar with Anne Lamott and Jim Wallis, but hearing Richard Rohr was the surprise gift of the weekend…he was fabulous! The picture that I have above (that I stole off of Neil’s blog) is me and my friend Neil meeting Anne Lamott…don’t I look like an awe-struck groupie? If you are interested in reading more about the general themes of our weekend, I would suggest going to this link to read an interview with Jim Wallis that is a good synthesis of some of the issues addressed. I will probably talk more in future entries about the particulars of what we learned, but for today I want to share 2 of the sessions that were especially powerful for me.
On Sunday morning, we gathered as one body to share a worship service and communion together. This group of 1600 people represented people from many different denominations, yet we raised our voices in song together as one body and we experienced the holy act of communion together as one body…Catholics, Baptists, Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians and many others as One Body…the Body of Christ, just like we will be in Heaven. It was incredibly beautiful and incredibly powerful. Then, yesterday morning, on Martin Luther King Day, we processed over to the steps of the Capitol to pray for our country, our world and ourselves. As I stood there, singing and crying and praying with my brothers and sisters in Christ…as we humbly asked God to hear our prayers for our country and our world…as we acknowledged to God and ourselves that we don’t have all the answers but we know that God does…I was overwhelmed by the sense of community…of connection…the sense that we are truly One Body in Him.
Again, I will probably talk more about the particular things that I heard this weekend in future entries as I have the opportunity to process it a little. For now, I am basking in the sense of connection that I experienced this weekend…the sense that Right or Left, Republican or Democrat, Catholic or Protestant, American or from other lands….we are all in this thing together because of our connection in Him. Along with that joy of connection comes a sense of responsibility…we as a country and as a global community have some serious work to do so that those who feel left behind, those who feel isolated, those who feel forgotten are brought into the fold. The commands of Jesus in Matthew 25:34-46 simply won’t allow us as Christians to do otherwise.
(Here is a link to more pictures of the weekend, if you are interested!)
Well, surprise, surprise, I am the first to comment on this post! It truly was a wonderful event and I am delighted to have been able to attend with you, Nancy, Shauna, Jack, Pam and the all the rest. Anne Lamott was a little too partisan for me, but I was struck by the humility of Ricard Rohr and Jim Wallis as they addressed the issues. The passion of Jim Wallis’ evangelicalism and consistent pro-life position in the face of a large number of ‘liberals’ was encouraging. I have sooooo much to process that I’m not sure when I’ll recover from it all!