Retreating to the Altar of Truth / by Andrew Fairfield

Dear friends,

Fall is a time of change, a hinge time, a turning of one thing to another. Not just the leaves, but our clothes, our habits, our diets, and even our personalities must transition with the season. But all of those changes are made a bit easier by an awareness that things will go back to how they were before, that the shortening days will lengthen again and peaches will one day be back on the menu.

Most of us can deal with that kind of cyclical, predictable change pretty well; after all, we’ve dealt with it many times before. But what about the changes that are much bigger, much slower, and much more difficult to undo? What about changes in society, ecology, and politics?

The fact is that our Christian sensibility, which leads us to reach out and directly engage those who disagree with us, works best when we can find a way to eat together, talk together, when there’s an opportunity to actually connect as human beings and ignite the flame of Christ’s love that lies dormant in every heart. This works well for personal discussions of politics, but when it comes to things like the now-frequent marches of racist hate groups in this country, we may need to approach things differently.

This week’s Psalm 43 is a prayer for those who have seen clear truth and are oppressed by vile lies. It’s a prayer for hope and patience, and for deliverance from deceptive people.

If current trends continue, there will at some point be another white supremacist rally at a nearby town or campus. When that happens, we may be best served to draw away, to “go to the altar of God.” It is good to show up and resist those who distort history and worship their own skin color, but unfortunately even well-intentioned resistance can add fuel to groups that thrive on hate. Rather than giving them the spectacle of resistance and violence that they crave, we might gather at a different place and make clear that God’s light and truth shine among us.

Change doesn’t have to be threatening, nor does it have to be irreversible. The darkness of hate we now see in so many hearts in this country may continue to get worse, but God’s light will be victorious in time. In Christ we become part of turning the tide; there lies our joy and our confidence. The nights may be getting longer, but we already look forward to Christmas when the daytime will begin to gain ground.

God’s light and truth be with you each day,