He also wept. He spoke truth to power. He taught about wealth and power. He welcomed all manner of people into his presence. He called outliers to be disciples.
Most of all, he acted. Faced with a situation, he did something. He fed hungry people, he healed the sick, he protected the vulnerable. Instead of building an institution, he traveled around. Instead of promulgating doctrines and institutional rules, he took action.
He had no interest in right-opinion. He spoke against the hurtful ways that the religious were using the Law. His consistent message was: Go out and help people. Come and see what God’s love can be. Give away your wealth. Enter into God’s new creation.
He modeled action that was direct, specific, courageous and other-oriented. The polite intellectual societies that arose in his Name probably would seem absurd to him. So would the endless radio programs and television programs demeaning certain people and uplifting a moral code unlike anything Jesus taught. So would the timid planners who look first to see if the budget has room, who look second to see if members would be pleased or displeased, and who look third to minimize risk of failure.
Jesus acted. And he called his people to take action, as well. People have been asking me what their churches should be doing and what they should be doing as individuals in the ager of Trump. My answer is: Take action.
For one thing, action is empowering. It counters the feelings of helplessness and despair that so many people are experiencing. For another thing, action is likely to require collaboration with other people. That, too, is empowering. Finally, action leads to the risks and dangers, even the suffering, on which a deep and abiding faith is built. Blessed are those who know their need of God – and who knows that need better than those who are trying to make the world better and are not at all convinced they can do it?
* Church leaders can become a clearinghouse for information about protests taking place in their area.
* Consider becoming a sanctuary congregation, providing sanctuary to undocumented immigrants if deportations begin.
* Arrange travel groups to major marches.
* Ask homebound knitters to make Pussyhats for marchers. (www.pussyhats.org for pattern.)
* Set up telephone banks for calling Congressional representatives.
* Prepare for action in 2018 mid-term elections.
* Keep a tally of people in your area being hurt by Trump policies. Provide help where you can.
* Consider providing free medical care and legal aid.
* Reach out to vulnerable neighbors and identify future needs.
* Join resistance movements like MoveOn, ThinkProgress, Sojourners, and others, to get more ideas.
* Buy subscriptions to New York Times for members who feel under-informed.
My advice to churches now: Stop the arguments, stop the in-house bickering, stop the long-range planning, and stop the capital campaigns. Now is the time to act. Freedom is on the line, including the freedom of religion.
Tom Ehrich is a writer, church consultant and Episcopal priest based in New York. He is the publisher of A Fresh Day online magazine, author of On a Journey and two national newspaper columns.