It is late on Sunday night and about 24 UUCF folks have just returned from the Moral Revival at Pennsylvania Avenue Baptist Church in Washington, DC. Rev. Dr. William Barber II is the central figure in this effort and he is leading an organization called Repairers of the Breach. This is the description from the website: “Repairers of the Breach, Inc. is a nonpartisan and ecumenical organization that seeks to build a progressive agenda rooted in a moral framework to counter the ultra-conservative constructs that try to dominate the public square. Repairers will help frame public policies [that] are not constrained or confined by the narrow tenets of neo-conservatism. Repairers will bring together clergy and lay people from different faith traditions, with people without a spiritual practice but who share the moral principles at the heart of the great moral teachings. Repairers will expand a ‘school of prophets’ who can broadly spread the vision of a nation that is just and loving.”
I have now seen Rev. Barber speak five times. And tonight, like every time I have heard him, he speaks directly to my heart about the lack of love in our public life and how we must be called to hope.
I was recently reviewing some Facebook posts since 2010 and realized I have been writing about our challenging political environment and our need for love and hope for a long time. And this is what I’ve come to realize: Whether through a central figure like Rev. Barber, through our congregations or from anywhere else, we must find the inspiration to speak and act to repair what Rev. Barber calls “a heart problem” in this country.
That is what we are trying to do with the Finding Common Ground gun violence event, with the Racial Justice Steering Committee, with our social justice efforts, with our Religious Exploration, with our worship, with all the programs of this congregation … We are trying to repair the heart problem, the sense of separation, the current suffering that comes from the loss of the moral connection between public policies and people.
It was hot in the church tonight, but Rev. Barber reminded us that it is much hotter for those not making a living wage. I don’t believe he did that to raise guilt or shame, he did it to lift up to our consciousness that the time has come for a moral revolution of values, of what is important, of what seems to be forgotten or maybe never really was there.
Rev. Barber was inspired to call for this revolution by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King. Near the end of his life, in his speech Beyond Vietnam, Dr. King famously said, “I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin … the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism and militarism are incapable of being conquered. A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies.”
It is always a good night to be together with those wanting to bring more love into the world. Tonight was especially good because it is another step in helping us believe it still might really be possible.