The Peace of Christ to you as we share life together in a world where peace is often hard to find. The daily news reports local, national, and international events, any one of which tempts us to retreat into our own little worlds. We often feel helpless to change things. “Who are we,” we may think, “to stop a war, to repair our environment, or to reverse legislation that limits our freedom?”
But as Christians, we are challenged, in following Jesus, to do what we can do. We are not to withdraw, but to engage. We are to be salt, and light. (Matthew 5:13-15)
And so I share with you two examples of such engagement. The first is this recent news article on the national leaders of the United Church of Christ challenging the abortion ban in Ohio. I urge you to read it as it states very well how faith undergirds this action. UCC JOINS CHALLENGE OF OHIO’S HEARTBEAT ABORTION BAN (<link)
The second example relates to Florida. It is from Senior Pastor, The Rev. Laurie Hafner’s recent “Laurie’s Lines” message to the members and friends of our sister church Coral Gables Congregational UCC. I share an excerpt from her letter here. I very much respect her action and think she states the rationale for her participation in the lawsuit beautifully. She wrote,
“That responsibility to my faith and to my Christian beliefs brought me to an important and heartfelt decision recently. This past Monday, as part of an interfaith contingency of local clergy, including three rabbis, a Buddhist, a Unitarian minister, an Episcopal priest, and me, have filed individual lawsuits against the state of Florida on the grounds of religious freedom over the State’s new abortion law HB5. It is our belief, that this new law, passed by lawmakers during the 2022 legislative session and signed into law by our Governor, violates constitutional freedom of speech, the free exercise of religion, and the constitutional separation of church and state.
For me personally, the greatest challenge of this law is that it severely restricts and denies a woman’s right to choose what is right, necessary, or important for her and her body. I believe with everything in me, that God has given us freewill, and that we are to use that freewill honorably, lovingly, prayerfully, and thoughtfully, in relationship to our God, our faith, and our family.
Please know that I am doing this as an individual and NOT on behalf of the church. I know we are a diverse church and as someone has said: “If we have 100 people present, we probably have 101 views on any one subject.” How I treasure and honor that diversity and would never presume to speak for the church without a congregational vote. It’s how we work!
I also know, that as members of the United Church of Christ, a denomination built on religious freedom, most of us stand on the side of freedom of thought, self-determination, and freewill. We also believe that God is love and that love is with us at every turn, decision, challenge, and undertaking, no matter who we are or where we are on life’s journey.”
It is good to know that there is ongoing work being done by our denomination and by faithful individuals such as Pastor Laurie to counter attempts by various groups to limit or remove our freedoms. Their examples can inspire us to live out our faith and engage with the world to make a difference. May it be so!
God Bless You.
Pastor Candyclick here to download this week's bulletin!