by Rev. Elizabeth Rawlings
So, a couple days ago I wrote a commentary for this Sunday's readings from the Revised Common Lectionary (for non-church folk, this is the list of readings most mainline churches get Sunday's readings from), about staying awake, about working on our own crap and being awake to the world. It was rather internally focused. This was in part because that is where I was a couple of days ago, but I also now realize this is because I straight up don't want to be awake to the world right now. I'd much rather be awake to my own emotional/mental/spiritual issues than what is happening outside my door.
I want to sleep. I want to sleep through each and every sexual assault/harassment allegation that is released. While I am glad at least *some* men are getting their comeuppance, I am pained by how long they were allowed to hold their positions, how they influenced the information we receive, the art that wasn't created because women were denied that space, and how many women had to be hurt for anything to happen. Not to mention the daily triggering for myself and just about every woman (and some men) I know. I want it to happen, I just don't want to bear witness to it.
I want to sleep through the policies and laws coming from this current administration. I want to sleep through the myriad ways this tax bill will screw people. I want to sleep through the threat is poses to charitable giving which supports those on the margins of our society with wild stuff like food and shelter and, selfishly, allows me to have a job. Hell, charitable giving allows the (non-mega)church to exist.
I want to sleep through the daily insults to humanity, grammar, and the office that come out of the American president's fingers and mouth. I want to sleep through the constant stream of hate spewed at my siblings of color, my undocumented siblings, my non-Christian siblings, my LGBTQ siblings... I want to sleep through it all. In fact, I am still in my pajamas contemplating going back to bed.
But the needs of my siblings, demand I stay awake. Because my power and privilege demand I do everything I can to stop awful bills from becoming law. Because I can use these things I have been given by virtue of being born white and affluent to lift up the voices of those on the margins and to use everything in my power to help all people not only be safe, but thrive. Because the Gospel commands me to do these things. The prophets command me to do these things. God has, over and over, and over again commanded us to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, house the homeless -- to give our power to those who do not have as much power or have power in the same way I do.
We are the body of Christ. We are God's hands and feet and voice in this world. We are called to use whatever position, whatever pulpit we have to break people open to God's love so that they might be more compassionate, more empathetic, more giving and less afraid. As the body of Christ, we cannot sleep when our neighbors, our siblings, are being forced further to the edges by a world that has gotten so afraid and entrenched in selfishness that they no longer understand how or why to care for others. We cannot sleep when the name of Christ is used in these efforts, when Jesus is maligned everywhere by people claiming his name while letting people die on the streets (by cold, starvation, or an unjust legal system). Unfortunately, we (especially those of us with any form of privilege, power or wealth) do not have the luxury of this kind of metaphorical sleep (but get your 8 hours cause that makes it way easier to fight the good fight).
And herein lies my hope: that there are so many people out there doing good, compassionate work. There are people out there who are so close to having something change their hearts (and maybe that something is a word or action from you or me!). The spirit is moving in the world. The spirit is moving in you. The spirit is moving in me. You will disrupt some people. You likely will piss some people off -- I know I HATE being woken up from a deep sleep, especially if I was in the midst of a delightful dream. But we cannot afford to sleep right now -- for our own sake, for the sake of our neighbors, for the sake of the gospel, and for the sake of the world.
Pray with me, will you?
God of waking and sleeping,
You have given us the hope of a kindom without tears, without pain, without fear. Help us to stay awake until your kindom is realized. Give us the strength to bear witness to the pain of the world, help us to take occasional respite in you that we might continue the work to which we are called. Help us to be brave and compassionate as we wake others up. Guide us into community that will feed us for the journey. Be with us now. Be with me now that I might do the work to which I am called in the name of your son, Jesus Christ,
The blog space is where we'll cover things: why we're using a specific focus during a season, to discuss liturgy, and random things that don't quite fit elsewhere.