Commentary
By Jim Wallis 12-07-2017

Life amid chaos moves quickly. Here’s what’s happened just in the past week.

  • Last Thursday, we saw a prayerful and powerful nonviolent civil disobedience in the Senate in which Capitol Police arrested Christians as they read from their Bibles about how God instructs us to treat the poor and vulnerable. The next night, the Republican Senate passed the tax bill that would devastate low-income people and families.
  • This week, a group of young Dreamers were joined by more faith leaders in another civil disobedience at Speaker Paul Ryan’s office, asking Congress to protect the undocumented young people who came here when they were just children.
  • On Friday, former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about conversations with Russia’s ambassador and is cooperating with the special counsel’s office. There are both Democrats and Republicans who now believe we may be headed for a constitutional crisis.

These are the times in which we now live. The turbulence of this year has left many of us feeling buffeted by constant storms in politics, society, and nature. Amid this daily chaos, fear, and pain, one thing is clear: The role of faith leaders across society is more important than ever. Our call and our ministry requires us to stay radically rooted.

The Christian story is grounded in a radical legacy of discipleship to Jesus Christ who exemplified the new order of the kingdom of God that he came to bring. This heritage leads disciples to intervene in the world in unconventional ways — into deeper relationship with and on behalf of those most targeted by oppression, as part of the radically inclusive, multiethnic, global church.

We must stay rooted in this radical legacy, while remaining fully present in our current time. While rooted in that spirit of faithfulness, compassion and justice have inspired past faith communities in other times of crisis. Being radically rooted, we also look forward in hope, even in such times, anticipating the ways we can affect the future.

In seeking this goal, Sojourners has always prioritized a focus on community, spiritual health, and biblical justice as means to understand how we are to love in each area of our lives.

Doing so requires us to learn from one another, to share our own perspectives while hearing from others, and to gather with other changemakers as we collaborate and seek true and lasting change.

For each of the past four years, Sojourners has convened more than 300 invited leaders committed to changing the world through faith and justice at our annual leadership Summit. This year the Summit’s focus is “Radically Rooted.” It will take place June 13-15, 2018 at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C.

The Summit is a time to hear from other leaders engaged in the kind of life-changing service that God calls us to, and to share together in our pursuit of ever more just and loving outcomes for those who need them. But it will undergird each day with how to sustain ourselves in that work. This year’s Summit, focusing on staying radically rooted, will emphasize the importance of three major themes:

  1. Staying rooted in the word of God, so that our work for the Kingdom may be accomplished. Matthew 13:3-6 teaches us that this is the most essential piece of growth and change, and that without a firm foundation in God’s word our faith is like seeds sown on the road, in bad soil, or among thorns.
  2. Rooting ourselves in God’s love and justice is like a tree planted beside water. Psalm 1 gives us this image, saying that the sustaining power of water is akin to the nourishment that God gives those who stay close to him and draw life from him.
  3. It is the strength of a plant’s roots that allow it to live again after enduring hardship and persecution. Job 14:7-9 says that though a tree’s “roots grow old” in the ground, “and its stump dies in the dry soil, at the scent of water it will flourish and put forth sprigs like a plant.” In times where we feel beset upon and downhearted, God reminds us that being rooted in him, in the core elements of our faith, helps us to persevere.

People and faith communities must rediscover and reclaim their radical roots to fulfill our vocations of working for justice. It is with these goals in mind that we eagerly invite you to apply to join us next June for three days of discussion, discernment, prayer, worship, and proclamation. Attendees to the Summit are thoughtful, loving, and most importantly, driven by a strong sense of justice and a willingness to act on it.

At the Summit, there will be a combination of emerging leaders and elders in faith-based justice movements, and we will be inspired by some of the most prophetic voices and actors in our time. To apply to attend, please follow this link. We at Sojourners are looking forward to our time together and praying that it will be a catalyst and a community for further social change.

Jim Wallis is president of Sojourners. His new Audible spoken-word series, Jim Wallis In Conversation, is available now, as is his book, America's Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege, and the Bridge to a New America. Follow Jim on Twitter @JimWallis.

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