Just as the emperor makes demands on the people of Israel, we face a thousand forces that make demands for our money and our time and our work and lives and our souls. We have work and school. We have families and friends. We have bills and loan payments. We have responsibilities on top of responsibilities. We even have taxes.
Some of these things free us to participate fully in God’s love. Some of these things put us under their thumb.
This is something that we know well at Back Bay Mission.
On Saturday, October 25, I’ll be the keynote presenter at the fall meeting of the Western Association of the Illinois Conference of the United Church of Christ at Church of Peace in Rock Island, Illinois. I will also be presenting a workshop on the work of Back Bay Mission. The theme of the day is ‘United For Ministry’.
Update: Unfortunately, this event has been cancelled.
What if we don’t need to wait? What if we don’t need to wait for someone to show up and tell us, “Come, all things are ready”? What if we don’t need to wait to be found in the charred streets of a burnt city? What if we don’t need to wait?
What if we can have a sense of holy impatience?
What if we can prepare the rich food and well-aged wines? What if we can wipe away tears and take away disgrace? What if we can light the candles and strike up the musicians and start the dancing and blow up the balloons and throw things to the jugglers and take on the tongues of flame and inflate the bouncy castle and share a deep gladness and an everlasting joy?
In 2014, Back Bay Mission welcomed the first two Shari Prestemon Social Justice interns. Over the summer, they did a several journal entries that were posted on the Mission’s website. I also conducted interviews with them after the internship finished. The stories that they told formed the basis for this appeal.
But when offering his compliments and criticisms – and, let’s face it, they’re mostly criticisms – he does not offer them as rooted in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Moreover, when he offers his vision for charitable activity, he does not anchor it in that gospel. Rather, he offers a vision of charity rooted in the ideology of capitalism.
But I have watched our misadventures in the Middle East. I wrote my capstone paper for my M.Div on the Iraq War. I spent a fair amount of 20013 researching and writing about the First and Second Busch Doctrines, American Imperialism, the Coalition Provisional Authority, the Iraq Interim Governing Council, the idea of ihtilal, Bremer walls, and other concepts surrounding the invasion and occupation of Iraq. I know that America does not know – and quite possibly no one knows – how to bring peace and stability to Iraq and Syria.
But here’s the thing about this world. It doesn’t work unless everyone gets involved.
I know how easy it is to hear the call to get involved and get nervous. I know how easy it is because I do it. There is so much need in the world, what difference can I possibly make?
And it’s true: no one person can take on all of the need in the world. But everyone can.