taking the words of Jesus seriously

What we witnessed on January 6, 2021—a live-action coup to overthrow our government where thousands of individuals ran through the Capitol with abandon, ransacked governmental offices, and took photos with law enforcement—was always just beneath the surface of our body politic. That the vast majority of these individuals were white and sent to the Capitol under Donald Trump’s orders was not lost for a second on most Americans’ minds. Just months before, a torrent of gun violence and racist policing set forth a nationwide uprising where Black and Brown people were tear-gassed, shot with rubber bullets, beaten, and handcuffed for merely showing up. People pleaded for less violent action by the hands of police, and on that day we saw that all it took was a shift in racial politics and optics.

Such inequality has always been a feature that has made a lie of our lofty language about the USA. Since the murder of Michael Brown, Jr. in the summer of 2014, we have been decoding the logic and impulse of Empire – human hierarchy, economic exclusion, ecological extraction, hyper-individualism/hyper-tribalism. This insurrection is what generations of hierarchy, exclusion, and isolation will produce. These are trans-generational realities—manifested at this moment by way of the omni-crisis of COVID-19, economic devastation, political disruption, and pervasive white supremacy.

It is astronomically hard to heal from anything when the scab is relentlessly picked on, at random and without cause. We as a nation have been searching for the way forward in cultivating our racial healing for centuries, and through it all, we know that faith and love have continually seen us through. Millions of people of faith and moral courage —people with and without a religious identity, amid this omni-crisis and pandemic—have stood up for justice, stood up for peace, stood up for revolutionary love.

READ: This May Not be a Time for an Altar Call to Unity

It is a revolution first within our individual bodies, minds, and spirits. It is also a revolution within the bodies, minds, and spirits of our families, congregations, communities. This spiritual work allows us to collectively engage in the revolution of the body, mind, and spirit of our institutions, systems, and national culture.

At Faith in Action, our network turned the volume up even louder in our fight for justice and equality. We engaged and mobilized millions of voters of faith and moral courage and have preached and prayed about prophetic resistance and revolutionary love. Within our denominations, grassroots justice organizations, organizing networks, and movement partners, we have engaged in the best of our sacred traditions to pursue a vision of Beloved Community, of an America that is yet to be, of a nation where ancient breaches are repaired.

We have work to do. It is sacred work. It is ancient work. It is trans-generational work. We have the witness of our ancestors with us. And we know that our descendants are depending on us to heal the hearts of the world and ourselves. So let us be gentle and generous with ourselves and with one another. Let us breathe deeply, deep into our sacred wisdom. And then let us be makers of peace, conjurers of prophetic resistance, and practitioners of revolutionary love.

About The Author


Michael-Ray Mathews brings over 30 years of leadership experience — as a senior pastor, grassroots leader, psalmist and community organizer — to his work as Deputy Director for Faith in Action (formerly PICO National Network). He is the host of the Prophetic Resistance Podcast, where he engages multi-faith leaders in conversations about cultivating communities of belonging and sacred resistance to injustice. Rev. Mathews is president of the Alliance of Baptists, a progressive movement for justice and healing, and co-editor of "Trouble the Waters: A Christian Resource for the Work of Racial Justice." A visiting professor of public theology at American Baptist Seminary of the West in Berkeley, he is also a senior fellow at Auburn Theological Seminary in New York. Michael-Ray is co-founder of and public theologian-in-residence with Sympara, a multifaith/interspiritual community of practice, repurposing spiritual assets for the common good.

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