The Rev. Casey dunsworth

serves as Associate Campus Pastor to the Belfry, the Lutheran-Episcopal Campus Ministry to UC Davis

and as Program Director for LEVN, the Lutheran Episcopal Volunteer Network.

The Power of One?


Today in my politics/sociology class we talked about what the roles Protestant clergy take in the political sphere. There are examples across the entire spectrum of disengaged all the way through to officeholders. We talked about our role as clergy in shepherding our flock toward greater engagement in the world around them.

Somehow we got to talking about Rosa Parks. Dr. Baggett said that when she died, her obituary was titled “The Power of One,” which is totally contrary to the movement in which she took part. I wrote this in my notes:

Behind every cultural "hero" there are 1000 people licking envelopes and having one-on-one conversations. There is no power of one.

People will get upset if clergy are too involved in politics – especially when those clergy are fighting on the opposing side. And, sure, I think we should preach that our people get out and make a difference in the world. Love your neighbor. We run that phrase into the ground. But when a clergyperson on the other side of the aisle does the same, I get frustrated. When a clergyperson convinces his flock to do the opposite of what I’d like to convince mine to do, I get frustrated. Doesn’t he know that’s not what the gospel says? Doesn’t he know that’s not what Jesus meant?

As though I have the ultimate understanding of what the gospel says and of what Jesus meant.

And someone brought up that there was once the power of one – Jesus. But is that even so? Didn’t Jesus work with his neighbors to effect social change? Weren’t the disciples licking the proverbial envelopes and having the one-on-one conversations, too? And the apostles, even more so? I’m inclined to say that Jesus got the ball rolling, and that we’re still keeping it up.

But that we’re doing it together.

And we needn’t get some sort of messianic complex and think we’re out to save the world. I wrote this in my notes:

We don't necessarily need to be the next Rosa Parks or to even cultivate the next Rosa Parks in our congregation. But we definitely need to cultivate a congregation that will be ready to stand up with the next Rosa Parks.

Amen.

Give Thanks in All Circumstances

"The Waves," Matthew and the Atlas