By: Elaine Northcutt
Hello everyone. This is my first foray into writing for a blog.
I am answering the call to do something. (I’ll be coming back to this).
I’ve been told I write well. Writing for a new audience on a subject related to faith development and experience, I confess—puts me at a disadvantage. Nonetheless, it is an opportunity to learn more about faith, scripture, and all other riches and richness the messages and teachings of Christianity offer through our faith community.
I will endeavor to write with the intention to give you, the reader, something to ponder, inspire, laugh over, something—to help us all understand Life a little better.
By way of introduction, my husband, Marc, and I have been members of Foothills for about four or five years now. We attend second service. For those of you with a need for particulars, we sit in the middle section about the fourth row back. Come say “hi” any time! We are proud parents of a 5-year-old German Shepherd Dog, Trina, that we adopted last year. She keeps us on our toes. We are grateful for the many new friendships we have made in recent years at Foothills and always looking to make new friends.
I have chosen for my first contribution, to talk about the Women’s March – San Diego held on Saturday, January 21, 2017, (yesterday—as I am writing this).
On Saturday, January 21st, I participated in the Women’s March – San Diego.
It was truly extraordinary. People left their sofas and TV sets, their Saturday chores and little-league games, grocery store runs and hair appointments, brought their best selves, friends and colleagues, families brought their children, mothers and grandparents with strollers and walkers and wheelchairs to walk and roll, (sorry for the bad pun) downtown, down Broadway, peacefully.
We stood for nearly two hours at the perimeter of the Civic Center packed shoulder to shoulder as the mass of humanity continued to grow and overflowed outward two, then three blocks over. Over 33,000 plus San Diegans assembled for this protest/march. To the left of us were a foursome of twenty somethings. To the right of us, a group of women in their thirties sipping hot coffee. In front of us was a group of seniors who had travelled from a trailer park north of Temecula, one in a powerchair. Beyond that was a sea of faces, hats and banners. Each and every one of these individuals took their civic duty seriously. This was not a parade; it was a protest/march. It was civil and considerate. Decent, law abiding, patient, thoughtful, conscientious citizens heeding the call to citizenship standing up for their moral convictions without fear of interference or retribution.
Today (the day after), as I pondered what to write about, it seemed a natural consequence to correlate this manifest lesson in civics with the lessons of faith and Christian values that each week we come to learn about, celebrate and incorporate as best we can in our lives, relationships and community. The more I thought about it, the more complex a topic it became. It is a rather daunting venture to write about and perhaps best left for seasoned experts to contextualize.
There is however, one fundamental fact that is worth mentioning and celebrating and which binds this protest and faith together. That would be our First Amendment Rights. The right of freedom of religion and the right to assemble. From this fact, we can touch upon three (3) lessons in exercising our faith that are worth reflecting upon.
To refresh our collective memories, the First Amendment reads:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
The first lesson is our right as individuals to assemble and celebrate our values, beliefs and Christian faith without fear or government intervention. A place where we can experience sanctuary (a place of refuge and safety) to commune with our faith, our community, our God in whatever language our heart speaks that day. Let’s not take it for granted.
The second lesson is the lesson of kindness, consideration and mutual respect. Every single person who showed up acted responsibly. That is remarkable. It represents the best of the teachings of the Gospel and the best in American spirit.
The third lesson is the lesson of community. The first part of this lesson, is the that it requires initiative. As Pastor Eric frequently reminds us in his prayer of invocation, a petition for each of us to do “something.” Something! As members of our faith community we pledge: "we will faithfully participate in the ministries of the church by our prayers, our presence, our gifts, our service, and our witness."
Community (society), it might be said, can be summed up by the aphorism, “one for all and all for one.” This applies equally to faith communities as it might to the Nation.
The Women’s March began with one (1) woman by the name of Theresa Shook. She lives in Hawaii. She was so distressed with the outcome of this election that she had to do something! So she did. She created a Facebook Page to march on Washington. According to a Los Angeles Times article, at the time she went to bed that night, forty people had responded. When she awoke the next morning, 10,000 people answered her invitation to attend this march.
The second part of this lesson, I believe has to do with conviction. One definition of conviction is to have a strong belief that is not likely to change. As Pastor Jeanette recently spoke in one of her sermons, (paraphrasing), “God does not call the qualified, he qualifies and prepares those who are called”. Clearly, this woman was called and she did “something.” Many came and helped her with their talents, time and resources to launch this protest march and at the close of January 21st, 2017, there were approximately 645 marches around the world, even as far as Antarctica, with about 5 million people who stepped out of their comfort zones to make their concerns known.
It is a testament that one person can make a difference. It is a testament that collectively grievances were seen and heard.
Our faith community is like a small country: our country. For it to survive and thrive we all must contribute to its sustainability and vitality. Everyone can do “something.”
Let’s be inspired by those who did do something yesterday.
Resolve to find a way to participate and contribute to the best of our ability to this little country called Foothills United Methodist Church. Many of us do already; many more can. The smallest gesture, the tiniest effort, goes a long way.
A prayer in closing for us all:
My Choices and Commitment
My choices and commitment Lord, inspire me to live in such a way that my choices each day and my commitment to live in a positive way may transform the negative into something positive, and the ordinariness of daily life into something extraordinary. Amen.