We don’t lack motivated, called people who love Jesus. We lack care about God’s people who live in small towns and rural communities.
Despite being a seeming underdog in the Democratic primary facing an incumbent mayor and the aspiring son of the late Mayor Daley, Washington won the primary and subsequently became the mayor. Part of my impetus for being involved was the voice and witness of the Black church on the South Side. Churches and pastors had organized to promote someone they felt would fight for their interests. I saw Harold Washington and his part of the Democratic party as a champion for the underclass, the marginalized, and “the least of these”.
This has always been the work of the Church, to continue and organize the Jesus Movement, bring in new followers and build leaders and power through relationships, and perform in-the-world-but-not-of-it actions to agitate the status quo and move the world toward change for the Kingdom. We just forgot what movements look like because we fell in love with institutional power.
Churches in the deep rural were decades ahead of what churches in larger towns and cities are experiencing now (numerical decline and struggles with building maintenance), and they may be decades ahead of us in how to be church. The discipleship coach model of congregational empowerment is one that we need to consider as a creative possibility and not a sign of defeat.
In many ways, border crossings performed by refugees/migrants today is an act of resistance against nation-states who consider it their absolute right to decide who may or may not enter their borders. Refugees are resisting not having voice or visibility by breaking the silence and showing up in huge numbers at international borders, even in the midst of the current pandemic. While this kind of resistance may not be enough to improve their situation or change the system, at the very least they hope to raise awareness that something needs to be done. I believe our God struggles with them as they travel through liminal spaces.
My privileged rest has the opportunity to take up Jesus’ yoke and be there for those who cannot find a way right now. For those who are fretting. For those who are frustrated. For those who feel powerless. For those who are disenfranchised. I need to listen, learn, and be present where possible to extend Jesus’ grace in solidarity to bear the burdens of my siblings in Christ and neighbors. I know my skills and resources, and I know I am blessed. I can do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with my God.
I have never had the regular experience of feeling physically threatened even from people larger than me. I have never felt unsafe in a dating situation, or in any intimate setting, because movies, TV shows, songs, cultural taboos, and multiple laws in multiple levels of government protect me in these settings, not women. I don’t have scripture-clobbering texts justifying taking away my consent in sexual situations out of “submission” to my spouse, seen as a “head” authoritative figure.
And even as I type this, I know I will benefit from the fact that men say this stuff so rarely that it’s seen as somehow exemplary to say the basic thing of: don’t be physically or emotionally violent toward women with your actions or words, just like you shouldn’t with anyone.