This week’s lectionary includes the section of the Beatitudes about the worth of the Church:
You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot. – Matthew 5.13
We know what the commentary says. Salt was a form of payment. Salt preserves. Salt secures. Salt represents worth.
That got me to thinking about something that has chapped my hide this week. The episcopal leaders of Northeastern Jurisdiction of The United Methodist Church issues a statement this past week in response to President Trump’s Executive Order regarding the “ban.” I say “ban” because Trump himself labeled it as such.
Besides the rather heterodox theology (i.e., modalism) and eisegetical interpretation of Matthew 11, I agree with the tenor of the letter. I do not support the ban, nor do I support, generally, executive orders.
However, I wonder where all of the statements are issued against President Obama for other things against the principles of The United Methodist Church, such as his stances on gay marriage. Okay, poor example, and I think we all know why.
The UMC seems to side with one party over another. I have recently joked that the many believe the ancient tetragammon is actually D-N-C. Because of that — the sentiment, not the joke — we are losing our ability to be seen as the loyal opposition. In Mark Noll‘s work, Clouds of Witnesses, he speaks about several saints who led the Church against their governments — not in battle, but as a remember that the Church stands separate from the world. All too often, we are caught up in the trends and cultural pace setting of our contexts, leaving us no witness.
We are angry over an executive order that would have temporarily prevented (if all things said were going to be true) a several thousand refugees from settling in the United States. However, there wasn’t much anger raised on the denominational level about 2.5 million Christian Mexicans ripped from their loved ones, their jobs, and their homes and sent south of the border, sometimes to lands controlled by ruthless gangs. Perhaps, because we had a Democrat in the White House, we didn’t have to be the Church.
As The United Methodist collapses into something new (or perhaps, somethings new), perhaps the new episcopal leaders will remember to be Christian — to be salt — rather than to be Democrat or Republican.