But by virtue of our baptism, God’s mighty claim on our lives, each of us are compelled to be prophetic. We not think of ourselves as prophets in the typical sense of the term, but we can all speak and act prophetically. And that takes on so many forms for each of us, in any number of situations in which we find ourselves.
You can look at this as an organization with programs, events, and projects that need funding, which is true. We can look at this as a temple, of sorts, as King David did, a sacred space for locating the presence of the Holy, that needs funding, which is also true. But a deeper truth is: it’s a church. It belongs to God, who will always, is always, doing so much more with it than we can ever imagine. We simply have to offer our best in faith.
I’m not sure what you’d call Hannah’s type of prayer. Maybe a “paper plate,” everyday type of prayer. The kind when we don’t have it all together, or are even a little desperate. The time when we’re at our wits end. The times when we need the presence of the Holy One the most.
The hard truth is that we still see this kind of pain and lament caused by violence in our world today, almost 3000 years later. The hard truth is that US policy affects people in Latin America. The other truth we know is that our faith, this table of communion, calls us to solidarity, calls us to take risks for the sake of the Gospel.
While one possible response to seeing a glimpse of an abundant God might cause some people to batten down the hatches in fear of the vastness. The other response, which I believe we are called towards is to confront a God of abundance with awe and wonder, not just at who God is, but also who we are as God’s creation.
We’re not called to take the Reuben option. We’re called to take the Jesus option. The courage option. Love your neighbor as yourself; stop on the side of the road and show mercy to the one who is beaten and bleeding; turn over the tables of those who profit from the system; let your yes be yes and your no be no; be the light of the world. Tell the truth, even when it’s costly.
Not just in family terms, but we have our faith ancestors. The social worker who intervened at just the right time. The coach who wouldn’t give up. The Aunt who took you under her wing. Or whoever it was who took a faith-filled step that they were doing the right thing. We are all spiritual heirs to someone, or several someones.
Maybe the Garden of Eden represents the truth of who we are, who we really are— created in love, created to delight in the world, created to commune with God and care for one another and for the earth itself. Maybe the task of faith is to push us past shame and fear and back to that sacred place from which we came.
What I mean by that is that most of us have not been a part of a social movement in which we have to make a strategic choice about whether or not to employ violence in an action. Most of us face this choice on a daily, personal level. Our temptation to do violence is in the little things. To practice thoughtful compassion or reactive anger. “The devil is in the details,” so to speak.
What strikes me about all these different kinds of debt is the cyclical nature of it all. People get locked into these cycles and things spiral out of control. That’s why the image of debt for sin is such a powerful one. We don’t just owe one thing, the charges keep adding up, no matter how hard we try to pay down the balance. The “interest” accrues, so to speak.