As we approach Independence Day, we are reminded of the freedoms and ideals upon which our nation was aspirationally built. It is a time for celebration, reflection, and recommitment to the principles that make the United States a beacon of hope and justice. At Riverfront Family Church, we embrace the call to be patriots, not in the narrow sense of nationalism, but as individuals committed to the values of equality, justice, and love for all. In this blog, we will explore how we can celebrate Independence Day while rejecting Christian Nationalism and respond to recent SCOTUS decisions with a prophetic witnessing voice for justice.
Rejecting Christian Nationalism:
Christian Nationalism conflates religious beliefs with the ideals of a specific nation, leading to the belief that one faith or religious tradition should dominate the public sphere. However, as followers of Christ, we are called to a higher standard - one that transcends national boundaries and embraces the diversity of God's creation. In rejecting Christian Nationalism, we acknowledge that our faith should inform our patriotism, but it should never be used to exclude or marginalize others.
The recent decisions by the Supreme Court of the United States have left many feeling frustrated and concerned about the erosion of rights for historically marginalized communities. As people of faith, we are called to stand for justice and advocate for those who are oppressed. Micah 6:8 reminds us, "He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." In our pursuit of justice, we are compelled to address the issues that have caused anger and frustration.
The Supreme Court's decisions rolling back Affirmative Action present challenges to achieving equality and addressing systemic inequalities. As followers of Christ, we are called to stand alongside those who have been historically marginalized and to work toward a more just society. Galatians 3:28 reminds us, "There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." Let us advocate for policies that promote diversity, inclusion, and equal opportunities for all -- including the use of affirmative action to help ameliorate and address generational systemic white supremacy and racism.
The recent SCOTUS decisions impacting LGBTQ protections remind us of the ongoing struggles for equality and acceptance faced by our LGBTQ+ siblings. As Christians, we are called to extend love, compassion, and support to all individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. We should actively reject discrimination and work towards a society where everyone can live authentically and without fear. Romans 12:10 urges us to "Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves."
The issue of abortion rights continues to be a divisive and sensitive topic. As Christians, we should approach this issue with compassion, recognizing the complexities and emotions involved. As a pastor, I affirm that the decision to have an abortion or carry to term is between a pregant person, their doctors, their involved partner, and, if they are of faith, their God. Neither government nor religious organization can o should dictate medical decisions for individuals or create/advocate for polices that encorach on the inherent right to self-determination. While we may have differing views, we must prioritize the well-being of women and pregnant people, provide support and resources for those facing difficult decisions, and work towards comprehensive solutions that address the root causes of abortion. Proverbs 31:8-9 reminds us, "Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves... defend the rights of the poor and needy."
Prophetic Witness for Justice:
As followers of Christ, we are called to be a prophetic voice for justice, echoing God's heart for righteousness and equality. We can engage in constructive dialogue, advocate for just policies, and work towards creating a society that reflects God's love for all people. Let us remember the words of Amos 5:24, "But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!" In our celebrations this Independence Day, let us commit ourselves to being faithful witnesses for justice and agents of positive change.
As we celebrate Independence Day, let us embrace our identity as patriotic Christians who reject Christian Nationalism, champion justice, and stand in solidarity with those who are marginalized. We can be a prophetic witnessing voice for justice by advocating for equality, rejecting discrimination, and working towards a more just and compassionate society. Let us be guided by Scripture, the teachings of Jesus, and the Holy Spirit as we seek to honor God in all we do. May God bless you abundantly as you celebrate and strive for justice this Independence Day.
June 29, 2023
Below is the statement by GHIAA on the Eid al-Adha Attack on Rep. Maryam Khan. Riverfront Family Church is a member of GHIAA and affirms this statement.
The Center for Leadership and Justice and the Greater Hartford Interfaith Action Alliance are appalled at the recent attack on Rep. Maryam Khan after Eid al-Adha observances in Hartford on June 28, 2023.
Islamophobia, racism, and violence against women are scourges that continue to plague our communities. When violence is inflicted against a worshiper gathered for public celebration of an important and joyful holiday of her faith tradition, entire communities are traumatized. When violence is inflicted against a woman of color wearing the garments that express her religious identity, it sends a message of fear to all women who dare to take up space in public, to all persons of color who dare to be present on city streets, and to all adherents who dare to attire themselves in accordance with their values. Specifically, when violence is perpetrated against a Muslim woman of South Asian heritage who chooses to wear a hijab and attends a public religious observance, all Muslims, all immigrants, all persons of color, and all women are left feeling deeply vulnerable, unprotected, and unwelcome. This is unacceptable.
As the first Muslim woman elected to the Connecticut state legislature, and as a powerful advocate for equity at the Capitol, and as an educator in the special ed department at Weaver High School, Rep. Khan is a barrier-breaking leader in our community. But one should not have to be an elected official, or a teacher, or anything other than a human being to receive the full protection and dignity they deserve as a resident of our state. It is a fact that GHIAA and CLJ respect and admire Rep. Khan as a leader in our legislature. And, this attack would be equally repugnant and deserving of response if it had occurred against any other participant in Eid observances this week.
As an intentionally interreligious and multiracial organization, we believe that we are all harmed whenever any member of our community is attacked on the basis of their identity. Be it Islamophobia, antisemitism, racism, misogyny, xenophobia, or any other form of bigotry, CLJ and GHIAA are united in declaring that hate and violence have no place in our society. Such acts are unconscionable and are incompatible with the teachings of every one of our venerable religious traditions.
GHIAA and CLJ stand with Rep. Khan, with the Muslim community, with women, with immigrants, with the South Asian community, and with all who experience fear as a result of this violent act. We are committed to continuing our work for concrete change toward equity, safety, and flourishing for all who are targeted and marginalized by systemic injustice. The many and varied prayers of our diverse GHIAA community are united in common petition for healing of these emotional, physical, and spiritual wounds. May the God we know by many names, including the beautiful name Allah, bless Maryam Khan and her family, and all who suffer fear and violence, and all who join in the work of justice.
The Center for Leadership and Justice
Greater Hartford Interfaith Action Alliance
In this modern age of entertainment, television series have become more than just a source of entertainment; they have the power to touch our hearts, challenge our perspectives, and inspire us to reflect on our own lives. One such series that has captured the attention of many is "The Bear." While seemingly an ordinary show, it holds deep spiritual lessons that can resonate with our faith and journey with God. In this blog post, we will explore the profound themes of trauma, mental health, forgiveness, grief, calling/vocation, and redemption found within "The Bear" and draw insights from scripture that reinforce these important life lessons.
Lessons on Trauma: "The Bear" masterfully portrays the impact of trauma on individuals and communities. Just as the characters in the show experience pain and struggle, so do we in our own lives. However, we find hope in the words of Psalm 34:18: "The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit." This verse reminds us that God is present with us in our most difficult moments, offering comfort, healing, and restoration.
Insights on Mental Health: Mental health is a prevalent topic in today's society, and "The Bear" addresses it with sensitivity. The show prompts us to confront the stigma surrounding mental health and encourages us to extend compassion to those who are struggling. As we engage in this conversation, we are reminded of the importance of Philippians 4:6-7: "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
The Power of Forgiveness: Forgiveness is a central theme in "The Bear," highlighting its transformative power. Through the characters' journeys, we witness the freedom that comes from releasing resentment and embracing forgiveness. Jesus teaches us about the significance of forgiveness in Matthew 6:14-15: "For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."
Embracing Grief: Grief is a universal experience, and "The Bear" invites us to navigate its complexities. The show encourages us to embrace our grief and find solace in God's presence. In times of sorrow, we can find comfort in the words of Psalm 30:5: "For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning."
Discovering Calling/Vocation: "The Bear" reminds us of the importance of discovering our calling or vocation. Each character in the series embarks on a personal journey to find their purpose. As followers of Christ, we are reminded in Romans 12:6-8 that we all have unique gifts and callings: "Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them."
Hope and Redemption: Redemption is a powerful force in "The Bear." The characters experience transformation and restoration, reminding us of God's redemptive work in our lives. Ephesians 1:7 assures us of this truth: "In him, we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace."
"The Bear" offers us spiritual lessons that mirror our own journeys of faith. Through the exploration of trauma, mental health, forgiveness, grief, calling/vocation, and redemption, we are reminded of God's unwavering presence, His desire for our healing, and the transformative power of His love. May we embrace these lessons, allowing them to guide us as we navigate our own paths of faith, always seeking to grow closer to God and embody His grace in the world.