Peoples Long Silenced




The words of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A) Brief Statement of Faith seem especially relevant in these days of pandemic and politics.  The Brief Statement contains beautiful sentences about peace and hope, and an elegant reprise of the work of the Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer. I’ve been thinking about this part of the statement a lot lately:

In a broken and fearful world
the Spirit gives us courage
to pray without ceasing,
to witness among all peoples to Christ as Lord and Savior,
to unmask idolatries in Church and culture,
to hear the voices of peoples long silenced,
and to work with others for justice, freedom, and peace.

Adopted by the Church in 1991, the statement as a whole is perennial, but this particular paragraph feels especially current and invitational. As we wrestle with the realities of our times, to label the world as broken and fearful is as true as it has ever been. The courage that can be mustered in these times is from the Holy Spirit, and it is courage that fuels action…

—to pray

—to witness

—to unmask

—to hear

—to work.

Courage propels us to act in faithful ways.  It seems to me, in this season of partisan politics and tremendous suffering and unrest that hearing the voices of peoples long silenced  are words to take very much to heart.  Listening in order to truly hear and understand is what’s being offered here.  Deep listening, hearing that affects our minds and our hearts is what we’re invited to do.

Hearing the voices of peoples long silenced—and there are so many, requires us to check ourselves, and to be open to listening, really listening, to others’ perspectives. We need to stop talking in order to listen. The voices of peoples long silenced– and we will each have to discern whose voices we have silenced— have much to teach.

Can we do it?  Can we unleash the power of the Holy Spirit, which gives us so much courage, to pray, to witness, to unmask, to hear, to work?   What are the possibilities if we truly tried?  I think the Brief Statement provides a big hint:  the possibilities are justice, freedom and peace.

It’s up to us, with the Spirit’s help.

May it be so, beginning now.