When I reflect on our church’s new Affirmation of Values, I think of my parents. Bernice and Raymond weren’t rabble rousers or community leaders, but their values were obvious in the way they lived their lives every day.
Mom and Dad both studied their faith, and did justice, loved mercy, and walked humbly with their God. They taught us that all people are important and worth paying attention to, not through words but through actions such as feeding strangers and making friends across societal boundaries like race and economic status. They were strong in their faith, and I never heard them criticize anyone else’s. They were environmentalists before that word became common. They didn’t know they were “composting” when we put everything that would rot into the garden soil. When recycling became available, they avidly complied. I still remember Mom washing out tin cans, removing the labels, and flattening them so they could be recycled. Dad volunteered at a community “paper baler” that consolidated waste cardboard and paper into his 90s.
My parents never marched in a protest (at least not that I know of). They probably voted Republican consistently, and they never told us who to vote for. They never lectured us kids on “family values” or anything like it. They lived every day according to their beliefs, and we learned their values by watching and listening. Values weren’t statements they hung on a bulletin board, they were who they were.
I think Seattle First Baptist is a lot like my parents. For decades we’ve lived our values, even when we didn’t bother to write them down. We welcome the stranger, stand with the marginalized, open our doors and hearts to whoever society decides to shut out. And I hope that we take the values we affirm seriously, into ourselves, so that they shine through our individual and collective lives.
I recently heard an environmental advocate confess that he gave up a specific brand of ice cream to lessen his carbon footprint. Two thoughts came to mind. Wow you’re serious about this! But more to the point, living our values and protecting our environment doesn’t have to be about ice cream brands and protests. Each one of us can maximize the good we contribute to the world by paying attention to every decision we make, choosing to live like we know we should, even if it’s not always convenient. We can put the brakes on our own consumerism, drive less, fly less, heat and cool less, and thoroughly enjoy life in the process.
I’m glad we have an Affirmation of Values. Those statements can help us remember who we have been, and who we are. And now it is time for every one of us to live out those values in our daily lives.
Read our Affirmation of here...