The American dream. Built on prosperity gospel. Built by first blotting out native lives, dignity. Built by slaves. Fear feeding tribal rage. Nationalism. Fear of the “other”. We will preach the dangers of the world, the dangers to our country: Our guns being taken away, God being taken out of schools, out of the government, black lives matter, women preaching, women leading, women’s bodies, the LGBTQ agenda, brown immigrants, brown refugees, sex ed., Muslims. This is America! GOD BLESS AMERICA! We are a Christian nation! And finally we have our Savior! He will make America great again! We are bringing God back into the White House. We will sing the praises because God has blessed us, he has heard our prayers and we will now be free, we will get our nation back!
*If you were not aware.. the following song was written and sung by a church choir for an independence day celebration that honored Donald Trump and his vision for America. It is now considered a worship song and is in a certified database of songs as a resource for churches.*
Eyes shut as the world is in chaos. Peacefully slumbering, all is well as long as America holds on to it’s God given blessings, we will be blessed! Right? Oh wait, eyes open a slit. What was that? It’s blurry but it looks like someone may be hurting. Muted voices. Was that a faint shout for help? A cry of rage in the distance? Eyes try to close again back into dreamland but that tiny bit of light is getting brighter.. Eyes are clearing, dizzy as feet take first steps out of sleepy stupor. Infant eyes, the new world spins. There are crowds. CROWDS of people gathering outside. Holding signs, yelling and singing, praying to be heard. Tears gather as awoken guilt washes over. Seeing how the dark has swept over, in. Sin deeply ingrained in the American dream, in the very colonization that made it possible. Natives seeking to be heard, to live. Still. Black lives snuffed out, justice never seen. Still. Cries, anger as the church turns it’s back on pain. Fingers in ears. Women of color ignored even as feminism gains a new life in the white world. Queer lives shunned and condemned, lives end as churches fail them. Entire systems infiltrated by the disease.
Prophets rise, shouting from the wilderness. Clanging warning bells: the church has been compromised! The American church. Fully embedded in white supremacy, nationalism, prosperity gospel. Coveting national power cloaked in a stand for “religious freedom”.
Women of color marching, leading the work to break down the walls of oppression that hold the church captive. Millennials sound trumpets as they search for the Gospel in the dry church only to find Jesus living, breathing outside the pristine walls. The conscious have their eyes wide now, a tremble of excitement as they find freedom from the stifling facade. Freedom to let go of the American dream, from nationalism, from a patriarchy that condemns, from a very pale gospel. Stepping into the world. Learning how to love from those that have been ostracized. Knowing the value in a global view of this world in seeing all as neighbors; valued, loved. Finding Jesus out here in the vast land, in the beautiful faces of the wide world. Finally understanding: America’s church is dying.
But from death. Resurrection. We are a resurrection people, aren’t we? It’s what’s been done, it’s what we’ll do. From death, life breathes. Oppression challenged. Status quo shaken. Truth to power. Peacemaking not peacekeeping. Wounds bound, healed. Reconciliation. Loving our neighbors. Coming in last. The beauty and freedom of a resurrected church. Freed from the desire and need for guns, power over government, white supremacy that feeds into it all, the idol of country.
This takes work. Difficult work. It takes delving into theology at it’s most basic and at it’s most controversial. It means digging in to context. It means reading the Bible from the perspective of the “othered”. It may feel like falling at times. It may make you hella uncomfortable. When you start seeing the church from a perspective that provides the realization that Christianity is not centered around you, around America, around western culture, around the rich, around military and wars, around whiteness, around patriotism, around the second amendment, around men, around straightness. It’s a whole heck of a lot bigger and encompasses an entire world, all genders, all tribes, all nations, all languages, all melanin.
Yeah. It’s scary to dive down the slope that the Church has told you for so long to stay far away from. But we don’t live in fear, do we? We are a people of bravery because we know that our God is in our midst. We know that he doesn’t get stopped by a wall. Or by a a jolly “Happy Holiday!” We know that we aren’t burdened as gate keepers and that as Holy Spirit moves, we do too, guided in freedom. Free of fear. Free from captivity of a sleeping soul. On fire. Awake. Eyes wide. Unflinching. Arms open.
Wake up Church. The Holy Spirit is moving outside your walls.