In these times when our faith is tested, when justice and righteousness are being torn asunder by the institutions we have relied on to protect us, we turn to the words of the Ancient Psalmist:
I seek refuge in You, O God;
May I never be let down.
In Your righteousness, save me and rescue me;
Incline Your ear to me and deliver me.
Be a sheltering rock for me to which I may always repair;
Insist on my deliverance,
For You are my rock and my fortress.
My God, rescue me from the hand of the wicked,
From the grasp of the unjust and the lawless.
For You are my hope,
O Lord God,
My trust from the days of my youth. (Ps 71 vv 1-5)
Like the Psalmist, we are struggling to return to that sense of security and hope;
For the wisdom to recognize what is unjust and lawless
And resist it with all of our hearts, our souls, and our might.
We stand together because our faith requires us to support the fallen, to heal the sick, to give strength to those who sleep in the dust.
We stand together because a nation which closes its gates to the oppressed, to the elderly, and to little children has closed its heart as well;
And that a country that separates itself from the cry of 6 million refugees, a country that wages a campaign of fear and intimidation against immigrants, Muslims, refugees and asylum seekers, is a country that has lost its civil and moral compass.
The United States of America has two mottos: E Pluribus Unum, “Out of many, one”, and “In God we trust.” These mottos have guided us to laws and norms that celebrate and protect the variety of peoples, races, religions, languages, histories and experiences that make up our single nation. Together our mottos proclaim that our diversity is our strength, and that God has created each one of us in the Divine image, worthy of celebration and protection.
Our country will not be redefined by exclusion or rejection
By callousness, distrust or faithlessness.
We will no longer assume we are unified,
But will reach out to one another, with open hearts and minds,
sharing our stories and listening to one another
Even when sharing makes us vulnerable
Even when listening causes pain.
Our job now, as people of faith, is to work harder than ever to fulfill the unfulfilled promise articulated by the African American poet Langston Hughes in his 1935 poem
Let America be America again.
“Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—
…that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.
O, let (our) land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wealth.
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe. “
We stand together;
all of our diverse faith traditions,
All of our races and genders, all of our countries of origin,
To commit as one
to make this dream more than an aspiration,
To make this not-yet-realized dream come true.
As we, like the Psalmist, seek refuge in God,
So may the driven and dispossessed of the earth
Seek refuge in in an America
That can yet with our help, be America again.