Standing With and Not Against

I thought I was all out of words after blogging all month for the Write 31 days challenge. But turns out I am not out of words…not by a long shot.

As I sit and watch out my window, I see the rain slowly trickling down.It’s a bitter cold North Dakota Fall day. Only a few hours from me, on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, there is much happening. Water protectors trying to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline. Police officers who are simply trying to uphold the law and do their jobs. And Construction workers who are trying to do their jobs too. In all actuality, no matter how this turns out real people will be affected by this event.

This morning, I woke up to my Facebook feed full of friends checking in on the Standing Rock reservation. Now many of them are not physically there, but it was one way that they could show support for their native american brothers and sisters. I cannot help but think of the words of Martin Luther when he stood and said “Here I stand, I can do no other.”

To say this is a complex issue in our state is an understatement. Yet I know that we are called to live out the words we hear in Micah 6:8 “But what does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, love kindness/mercy and walk humbly with our God.” But what does justice look like? Do each of us see justice differently?

I have never really seen myself as a social justice warrior but I indeed have felt and answered the call to be a minister of word and service who picks up her basin and towel to wash the feet of all God’s people. And so I find myself…in a complex spot..standing with my native siblings while they try to protect the water. But also yearning for peace in the midst of it all. A dear friend is in law enforcement and not only is he in danger, but his family is too. And so I find myself asking the question “Is violence the answer?”

I understand that violence is truly what often is what will be reported. Yet doesn’t our God call us to be united in bonds of peace in this broken world. And on the other hand, we haven’t been good at seeing the other; at seeing our native brothers and sisters, our black brothers and sisters, and so many others. Perhaps this is the only way that we will get woke and begin to listen to, love, and truly respect those that we often have considered to be standing on the outside.

In this world, I yearn for unity and justice for all. I yearn for my LGTBQ friends to never again be questioned for who they are and to be truly welcomed in the church. I yearn for my black/brown friends to step out into the world without fear that they might be shot and/or killed. I yearn for all of us to be respected and loved fully and completely without exception in this broken world. I yearn for all of us to remember the words to the 8th commandment found in Luther’s Small Catechism which says “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”

Too often it seems to me that we forget to look at our neighbors “in the best possible light.” Today alone, I have seen people being reprimanded for checking in on the reservation even though they are not physically there. They have been told that they are lying. But I also have seen people accused of lying on the other side of the issue as well. Is that all we care about—lies, etc?

Martin Luther himself wanted to enact change and so he nailed 95 theses onto the castle doors at Wittenberg. To be honest, I don’t think I have the strength or power to reform the church by myself. But as a united body of Christ together, I think some amazing things could happen (and have already begun to happen. Here’s looking at you Decolonize Lutheranism peeps!) Many of us are tired of not fully living out the words that we confess, proclaim and sing. All–every race, gender, nationality, etc–should be welcomed!

I know that especially here in North Dakota not everyone agrees with the water protectors. But what if we sat down and truly listened to one another? What if instead of slandering one another we saw each other in the best possible light? What if our actions began to transform and reform the church in new and exciting ways?

Many won’t understand why one side doesn’t understand the other side. Many will think that their side is the ultimate truth. Yet isn’t truth relative? True truth is knowing that God calls us to “love our neighbors as we love ourselves” despite our own differences and disagreements.

There is a part of me that struggles with the idea of violence and why someone would want to be arrested for a cause. Yet sometimes it seems to me we have to make gigantic waves to get the world’s attention. And today, I am putting aside my own agenda, my own white privilege and standing with my native american brothers and sisters; not physically but in the ways that I know how.

Because God has brought some pretty incredible people into my life in this past year who are ready and willing and able to be amazing reformers in this world. And knowing that I am not alone, I simply shout out “Here I stand. I can do no other”.

For whether it be an oil pipeline or whatever it may be…God reminds me–reminds all of us—that we need to stand on solid holy ground advocating for justice, mercy and kindness in this broken world.

“Here I stand, I can do no other.”

2 thoughts on “Standing With and Not Against

  1. Tara – this is beautifully written. You have given me much to ponder and a better understanding of all that is happening in North Dakota. I love that you referenced Micah 6:8 because there is something about the words "do justice and walk humbly with God' that we would all do well to study and understand what that means in our own life. Thank you for your beautiful offering today.

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