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In the summer, faith community needs to be alert, speak

Summer provides needed respite for some.  We can step outside our day-to-day routines to refresh our lives outdoors in God’s creation.  We can take time to be with family, garden, exercise, pursue adventures, go to camps and find opportunities to serve our communities.

Time spent waterskiing, swimming, hiking, doing ropes, playing sports or climbing mountains—stretching muscles, taking risks and persevering can translate into insights for life, faith, mission and advocacy.

Retreating to reflect or risking  to stretch ourselves is not about escaping from the reality of our need to be in solidarity with those who continue to face injustice.  Flexing our minds, bodies and spirits empowers us to persevere in challenging unjust budgets and serving those affected by them.

Despite the usual talk of cutting waste or excess, national and state budgets still propose redistributing the economy’s wealth so it bypasses “the least.” Too many have to work several low paying jobs, with fewer full-time jobs with benefits. To justify excluding some from the economy, voices emerge to reinforce stereotypes of people who struggle with unjust policies that keep them in poverty.

To “feed” the military, will we continue to redirect funds from programs for the poor, health care, environmental protection, education, civil rights protections and the general welfare?  Will we divert funds from diplomacy and humanitarian aid that can reduce “need” for more killing machines? 

To avoid sinking into a summer of silence, we must keep informed.  We must not let reality-TV blitzes of distracting stories overload us and deflect us from what is happening to public policy.

We must be open for summer to be a time to listen to the still small voice, to be a time to renew our courage and commitment to keep sharing our voices on the issues that matter. 

At a recent Faith Action Network of Washington “Spring Summit” in Spokane, participants shared what gives them hope.  Their list included children and grandchildren, political push-back on policies, investigation of possible corruption, Pope Francis’ wisdom, reflective conversations in congregations, a healing pastoral letter from a church official, an increase in people taking responsibility, challenges to the Doctrine of Discovery that justified land grabs from indigenous people, divestment from fossil fuel and more socially responsible investment.

In a gesture of hope, several clergy taped up questions about health care on their representatives’ door—reminiscent of the theologian Martin Luther tacking up 95 theses on a church door in Wittenberg and  beginning The Reformation 500 years ago.

Statewide and nationally, there are opportunities to contact representatives who set budgets and policies that affect our lives. 

In the summer, we may find more time to meet representatives and government leaders face-to-face, to make phone calls, to write letters and to sign email petitions.  We each need to keep informed and to keep doing what we can to influence policies.

We can pray every day.  We can rerun the political buzz language through our faith language and teachings.

Issues that continue to be on the agenda of the faith communities of the state are economic justice, tax reform, environmental justice, health care, human trafficking, criminal justice, and injustice to indigenous communities and people of color.

Also on the agenda for the faith community in the Northwest is celebrating the 1987 apology by Northwest religious leaders to indigenous communities by building personal relationships and relationships of solidarity.

When looking at a government budget  proposal, Sojourners magazine suggests Christians ask, “What would Jesus cut?” 

Anyone of any faith community can ask how cuts align with teachings of their own spiritual leaders.

Sojourners Editor Jim Wallis urges people of faith to ask that question in their congregations and workplaces, as well as asking their political leaders.  May that question spur dialogue and discussion from multiple perspectives, so we can learn from each other and consider new options.

May our time away be time to renew our faith, our faith perspectives and our commitment to faithful action.

Mary Stamp – Editor

Copyright © June 2017 - The Fig Tree