I have participated in lots of rallies, marches, demonstrations, and protests over the years. This is what this week’s text reminds me of. Read it here.
Like Joshua standing in front of the gathered people, moving stories are told. Lived experiences are shared. Rallying speeches are given. At every crowd gathering—call to actions are made and the people listening are moved to join in.
One of the songs used at such events I have attended asks, “Which side are you on?”
Given all that is happening in this nation – this is a great question to ponder as preachers prepare for Sunday.
Just to be clear, this is not a question about left or right, democrat or republican.
This is a question that asks those gathered on Sunday if they are on the side of the people—the side of justice…? Or are they on the side of safety, comfort, tradition, and privilege…?
Asking how which side they are on shows up in their daily living, the votes they cast, the conversations they have and the alliances they build…?
I ran across a quote by Howard Zinn on my Facebook feed that read:
“It would be naive to depend on the Supreme Court to defend the rights of poor people, women, people of color, dissenters of all kinds. Those rights only come alive when citizens organize, protest, demonstrate, strike, boycott, rebel, and violate the law in order to uphold justice.”
This was part of an article written in October 2005.
13 years ago!
And given the recent addition to the Supreme Court—the words still ring true today.
When reflecting on this text, I invite us to remember that choosing to serve God means choosing to serve one another. Choosing to turn our hearts to God means turning our hearts to the world God loves. Choosing to be in covenant with God means being in covenant—right relationship—with all of God’s creation.
Perhaps during Sunday’s gathering, examples could be shared on ways our decision to chose God can, should, and, must be lived out in community—with and for others.
I know we don’t like to “should” or “must” folx—but these times require clear imperatives!
In today’s Sojourner’s “Voice of the Day” Rachel Held Evans shares, that
“With Scripture, we’ve been entrusted with some of the most powerful stories ever told. How we harness that power, whether for good or evil, oppression or liberation, changes everything.”
The times are raising a rallying cry!
Poor, hungry and homeless people are raising a rallying cry! Abused women and children are raising a rallying cry! Immigrants and refugees are raising a rallying cry. Black families mourning loved ones lost to state-sanctioned violence are raising a rallying cry! The LGTBQIA+ community is raising a rallying cry! Colonized and diasporic peoples are raising a rallying cry!
The church cannot afford to be naive.
Justice “only comes alive” when we choose to “harness [the] power” that has been poured out on us by the Holy Spirit and is drawn out from our very beings with each story generously and courageously shared with us.
Blessings and power to each of you in your sermon preparations and delivery.
Rev. Dr. Marilyn Pagán-Banks is a queer womanist freedom fighter, minister, teacher, and learner and is committed to the liberation of oppressed peoples, building power and creating community. She lives in Chicago with her spouse, three children and eight grandchildren (!) and currently serves as executive director of A Just Harvest, pastor at San Lucas UCC and Namasté UCC, and adjunct professor at McCormick Theological Seminary.
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