January 6th 2021

Dear Friends,

Blessings on you in this New Year!

In my faith tradition, January 6th is Epiphany, sometimes known as Theophany. It is a holiday where we remember the ancient Wise Ones who, guided by an unusual star, left their homes on a shared journey leading to the home of Joseph, Mary, and Jesus. Those Wise Ones left gifts for that family and then found new ways to return to their homes. Always about so much more than gifts and candy, I have been inspired by the disciplines born of this day, the disciplines attendant to joining good company to follow the shared hopes of our hearts.

Since October, I have been leaning into Auburn’s work and communities, listening and learning. I know that I have joined good company at Auburn Seminary! We hold such amazing gifts. I believe that the real work ahead for us will be marshaling the capacity and resources to offer these healing hopes of our hearts to the world. We will be talking more about this in the weeks and months ahead. I am grateful to every one of you for your leadership and the rich wisdom you have shared with Auburn for years. We would not be able to imagine forward without the contributions each of you have made to the shaping of Auburn’s journey and I wanted to begin this year with deep for appreciation for you.

In the United States of America, January 6th is also the day that a sitting president unwilling to accept the will of the people and intent on remaining in power incited a mob to violence at the People’s House. It was a failed attempt at a coup. Failed for now, I should say. History has shown us what happens when countries have ignored the same, when they cheapened the call for healing by holding no one accountable for rupture and breach. I remember watching the footage of the violence at the Capitol one year ago and thinking that this tragedy may not just be about lies and disinformation. Maybe the violence that unfolded before us on that day was also one of the many consequences of our inability to sit with and hold truths.

Truth-telling and truth-holding is the work and imperative of our times because there can be no justice and no peace—no life and flourishing—that does not begin there. Equally as imperative is the relief we need from weaponized truths.

As you face today—January 6th—I offer you a poem Maya Angelou read at the United Nations some years ago – “A Brave and Startling Truth.” I’m including the video because who can resist the peace of her regal image, who can resist listening to her commanding voice? May the hope, possibility, and truth she invokes in her poem inspire us to show up today, wherever we are today and with whatever is the work given to our hands today, with a hunger for a more authentic connection with each other and a willingness to work for a world where all can thrive.

With gratitude,

The Rev. Dr. Emma Jordan-Simpson
President, Auburn


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