The Office of Public Witness

23 August 2014

I figured I would leave this gem here. So we are at Stony Point and had just finished this absolutely beautiful worship service and the leader invited us to take the candles we had just lit out into the camp and find a place to meditate with our candle. I’m walking next to a building and see a skunk, so I casually make my way to a different area.

However, my friend Abby was a few minutes behind me. So here I am across the way, ruining this beautiful silent reflection time yelling, “Abby, Abby, walk towards my voice! Walk towards my voice!” By this time I’m sure that people are staring and wondering why I am yelling like a crazy person, but hey! I saved her from getting sprayed by a skunk, so I’m feeling okay about ruining a deep moment of reflection. When we finally meet up, she realizes I’m not hurt. I explain the situation and we just laugh. She tells me she’s never seen one before, so together (from a safe distance) holding our candles we watch it run around the building.

Yesterday we were blessed by the witness of Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson who runs the Office of Public Witness of the PCUSA in Washington, D.C. Man, am I always glad to hear this preacher speak! He always blows my mind, leaves me fulfilled, yet full of good questions and theology.

Today’s reflection was around Faith and Advocacy. Dr. Nelson explained some of the work he is doing in Washington and told stories of the people that lay a foundation for his work. This is kind of complicated and I’m sure I won’t get all of the information completely one hundred percent correct, but stick with me. For example, the minimum wage has risen to $10.10/hour. Those who work in the McDonalds food court on Capitol Hill have a contract stating that they are to be paid the $8 minimum wage at least for another two years. The workers would quit, but there is no guarantee or job security waiting for them at the McDonalds on the block where they live or in the neighborhood. So, they must stay, commute, and be underpaid because it was under a separate contract that management won’t budge about.

These are the kinds of people that Dr. Nelson fights for! This is such an injustice and the work of the Office of Public Witness is truly a force of power and presence in DC. Other topics Dr. Nelson spoke on where his own personal experiences of starting a new church, the work of eradicating gun violence, and effective communication with our elected officials.

I was able to bring the question of being worthy to my small group and this was a really great place for me to bring the question. A few notes I took were about knowing that we are not perfect and finding Gods love in this is hard because we don’t always love ourselves. A few members suggested I look up the idea of grace and what that means, specifically.

So anyway, I will close with a simple definition for the first part of my journey. “Grace has been defined, not as a created substance of any kind, but as “the love and mercy given to us by God because God desires us to have it, not because of anything we have done to earn.”

Grace and Peace,
Russ

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