Faith and Public Policy 2017 WDCUncategorized

While We Yet Sit: Brief Reflections on Power, Grace, & Faith

Power: It’s early morning and the monuments to power are everywhere as my colleagues and I ride through D.C. to the iconic United Methodist Building, the workplace of our hosts the United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries and the United Methodist Church General Board of Church and Society. By Noon we have learned about the challenges facing yet another group of oppressed individuals and the inequity experienced by the powerless at the hands of the powerful becomes ever more evident. The potential for our hearts to grow heavy is ripe. That potential would be realized but for the amazingly committed faith leaders we are being exposed to.

Meeting with Barbara Lee

Grace: Over breakfast in a Senate cafeteria one morning, fellow student Melvin Cobb and I observe historic pictures on the wall and reflect aloud on the fact that we are sitting in one of the places where privilege in this country is created, maintained, and passed on from generation to generation. It would have been easy for us to become disheartened about our seeming inability to counteract the negative influences of privilege but then something profound occurred to us. There we sat, descendants of enslaved peoples and survivors of our own personal struggles, preparing to lobby legislators on behalf of the sick, the immigrant, and the captive. What a testament to the grace of God. What a testament to the power of faith.

Faith: It is surely that same grace and that same faith that give the faith leaders with whom we are meeting the power endure in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. What is striking about these leaders is their depth of knowledge and relative lack of pessimism. We feel encouraged to fight alongside them, to speak truth to power, to run and not be weary, to walk and not faint. Though we may face times of uncertainty about whether our efforts are making a difference, we need only remember that God’s grace is operating in the midst of our efforts…while we yet sit.    

Valerie Purnell