Commentary: Following Yonder Star (to DC?)

michael-neuroth.jpgIn this, the season of Epiphany, we honor the journey of the Magi to the Christ child. The Epiphany story captures the journey of faith, but it also contains a powerful political message. In the biblical narrative, we read that wise men, or magi, journeyed from far off lands to humble themselves before a child. In the historical context, we see how Jesus’ birth challenged political power (Herod) and embodied God’s love and preference for the poorest and outcast among us (shepherds were the first to hear the news). The political reversal contained in the story is radical in any era, and may be needed more than ever today.

In the coming days, thousands of people will be making a rather different journey. Some will travel from all across the nation to attend the inauguration of President-elect Trump, whose campaign rhetoric many felt denigrated the most vulnerable in our society. As a counter-expression, thousands will journey the following day to join the Women’s March or other events that same weekend.

In our office in Washington, we have heard from hundreds of UCC members who are planning to journey to the nation’s Capitol. Many are travelling by bus all night long from all across the country. Some may be joining out of partisan affiliation, but I believe most are motivated as witnesses to a deeper call. Following a campaign cycle that many felt disparaged women, refugees, Muslims, and labeled others as “deplorable,” people are more motivated than ever to stand up, speak out, and reclaim the public square as a place of respect, civility, compassion, and love. For UCC members, it is an expression of our commitment to “Be the Church” in a tangible way.

The fact that so many will be coming to the District gives me hope – regardless of which events they choose to attend. It suggests that our public values and rhetoric matters, that we are committed to be a better, stronger, and more loving nation. My hope for all those traveling, and all of us in 2017, is that – like the Magi – we keep ourselves open to discovering something new, something transformative, something inspirational that will guide us home in a different way, preparing us for a long journey ahead.

For me, I am committed to hearing and to supporting with renewed vigor the messages of women and all those who are silenced or alienated. Like the message of the Christ-child, I believe truth and light most often emanates from the margins of our world, from those who see and articulate God’s love for all.

One such voice I commend to you at this time is that of Rachel Asproth, who wrote the poem, “A Prayer for Women in 2017: Remember Your Daughters,” in which she appeals to God and to all of us to remember the women who fight, who lead revolutions, and who swim ferociously against the tide, imploring –

“Remember your daughters in 2017
Remember the women your world loves to forget
Remember the women your church overlooks
Remember the women your people try to erase.”

Words to reflect on as you begin your journey to follow the Star.

Read “A Prayer for Women in 2017: Remember Your Daughters” on the UCC website.

Michael Neuroth is Policy Advocate for International Issues the United Church of Christ.

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