As I pinned a large safety pin on my jacket this morning here's what went through my mind like an annoying song stuck in my head: that I'm glad someone thought of this; that I'm glad to wear this symbol; that I'm sad there's a need for something like this; and, what saddens me most, that the cross no longer conveys the same message to a vast number of people.
Co-moderator Jan Edmiston asks "What breaks God's heart in your neighborhood?" If you ask me, this is it. The Church of Jesus Christ has been hijacked by extremists who say and do hateful, hurtful, violent, terrible things in the name of God, and who use the Word of God as a weapon, while waving their crosses and thumping their Bibles. And we, the leaders of the church let it happen...at any rate, it happened on our watch. In the words of Edmund Burke, "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing" and I have done nothing. May God forgive me for convincing myself that I was being non-confrontational when I was really being a coward; for looking the other way, conveniently not seeing the sprouts of racism, anger, and yes, radicalism shooting up all around me like weeds.
So for now, anyway, for a while, I'm choosing to wear a safety pin and not a cross. Not that I'm ashamed of the cross; I am beyond thankful for what the cross of Christ means to me. It's just that it has come to symbolize something different to some of my LGTBQ sisters and brothers, to people of color, to our Muslim neighbors while we in the church have been "busily tending our sheep or our kingdoms", as the late Ann Weems said. Wearing our crosses like a badge of office or slapping on an "I Voted" sticker is not enough.
And while I sit in the corner with my face to the wall, and think about what I've done, I'm going to try to figure out how to identify myself as a follower of Jesus Christ without hanging my trusty cross around my neck. How to behave myself as a grateful recipient of God's grace. How to "demonstrate the love and justice of Jesus Christ" as I promised when I was ordained. Hmmm. Maybe I should read those ordination vows again, renew them and start over. Wearing my safety pin instead of a cross.
Christianne Chase is a Ruling Elder member of First Presbyterian Church, Enid, OK and Chair of the Synod Coordinating Team