Sometimes the lectionary texts seem to speak to the heart of the struggle. I’m still wrestling with my mixed responses to the Women’s March this last weekend as I am confronted with God’s justice requirements. Reading these texts tells me that I can’t be angry when people show up for justice even if they are later to the game than I was (because I was a lot later than I should have been). I can’t be angry when people show up and still don’t fully grasp the wider issues circling around. I can’t be angry when people think that a march is all about the fun and sense of community that it produces and forget the justice issues by the time they get home. Why? Because they showed up and it isn’t too late, not really. There’s plenty of work to be done even for the late-comers and for the ones who haven’t really opened their eyes or their hearts. The work for justice never ends, right?
I read that familiar passage in Micah about what the Lord requires and I’m convicted all over again. I can’t be angry that so many folks remain oblivious to doing justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly with God because, well, I’m not always so good at it myself. As I sit in my privileged place, I see how easily I once believed that all the inequality and injustice were “normal” and, therefore, right. And how slow I was to awaken to the truth. I also see how I let anger consume and nearly destroy me and justify my poor treatment of my neighbors. And humility, the kind that allows me to be fully myself and allows others to be fully themselves, is a daily battle. God asks something of me every day that I am often reluctant to give. I must be part of the movement for justice for all people even if I get it wrong sometimes. I have to take the risk of showing up and speaking out. And when I get it wrong, I have to be willing to apologize and learn a better way. I want to live in God’s tent even when it makes me decidedly uncomfortable. How ‘bout you?
Now we come to the very familiar Gospel text, the Beatitudes. At the St. Paul, MN Women’s March this weekend, a colleague changed the list to be more inclusive and specific to the issues of today. She inspired me to come up with my own version:
Blessed are the forgotten and forsaken, the ones we walk by and overlook, for heaven will be their home.
Blessed are those mothers who rage against the deaths of their black and brown skinned children whose blood flows in our streets, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the faithful Muslims and Jews who live under threat of hateful bombs, for they will inherit the Earth.
Blessed are those transgender, queer, and gender-nonconforming people who hunger and thirst for recognition and welcome, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the fierce ones who risk speaking truth and acting with mercy, for they will receive mercy.
Blessed are the quiet ones who show up when no one else does to speak a word of hope, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers and the justice-seekers who push us beyond what is into what needs to be, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who have had hate thrown at them in Jesus’s name, for theirs will be the realm of heaven.
Blessed are you when you speak truth to power, when you step away from the center to make room for the marginalized, and when you awaken to the injustice all around you. Others will revile you, but you will be loved beyond your imagining and your reward will be immeasurable.
God’s wisdom often looks like foolishness. May we all have the courage to make fools out of ourselves for the sake of Love.
What are you thinking about these texts this week? Where is the Spirit gently leading or urgently pushing you? Please join the conversation below that we may take this journey together.
Rev. Dr. Rachael Keefe is the pastor of Living Table United Church of Christ in Minneapolis, MN. You can find links to her blog, vlog, and books at Beachtheology.com.
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