Epiphany Greetings!

By Sandra Steiner Ball

Epiphany is the season in the Christian year where we celebrate the revelation of Jesus and are reminded that we are called to reveal God’s light to others. 

Christians believe God so loved the world that God sent God’s son Jesus, with the purpose of creating a way through which all people could have life.  Clearly God cares deeply about the plight of every person. Through Jesus, God seeks to teach us about God’s love and invites all people into the transforming power of that love and to take their place in God’s kingdom, receiving eternal life. God sent God’s son into the world, not to condemn the world, but so that the world could be saved through him (John 3:16-17).  Through Jesus all are invited to discover or rediscover the divine image in which each of us are made. God created and God values each person.

This is not only our historic United Methodist belief but is at the core of our Christian practice as we live out our faith in Christ each and every day. 

Whether it be John Wesley and William Wilberforce making the moral argument against slavery as the faith-based vanguard of the abolitionist movement, the radical diversity and inclusivity of the early Methodist societies, or the direct action taken by Methodist clergy and laity in the Civil Rights struggle, United Methodists have taken a stand with and for those whose human dignity and worth are threatened. United Methodists believe in the sacred worth of every person and have actively participated in protecting the rights and freedom of all people. 

Our active participation is again needed to advocate for those at risk of losing the most fundamental right we possess as American citizens – the right to vote. Our United Methodist Social Principles urge us to stand for free and fair elections as a basic human right. 

Additionally, our Book of Resolutions calls for a vision of the beloved community founded on economic and racial justice which includes strengthening voting rights protections for those most vulnerable to having those rights stripped away. 

To echo Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose deep faith in a God who loves all people compelled him to work tirelessly to ensure all can participate in democracy through free and fair elections: 

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. And none of us are free until we all are free.”  (Letter from Birmingham, Alabama jail, April 16, 1963)

Currently the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act challenges us to think about the value of each person in our country and around the world as the decisions in one area of the world impact all the world. My prayer is that we would work to ensure that every voice, regardless of ethnicity or socio-economic background, matters, thereby advancing a vision of beloved community, recognizing that every voice matters to God. 

As we move through this Epiphany season, may we remember to reveal the light of Christ and come alongside our siblings, whose right to vote is at risk of being diminished or dismantled; and declare that their voices matter, and must be heard. May we use our voices to urge our Federal and State leaders to support policy and fair processes that protect and cherish the right to vote for all citizens. 

Sandra Steiner Ball
Residential Bishop
West Virginia Conference of The United Methodist Church