Speaking truth to power
With the DNC in Philly, our town has warmly (literally) received thousands of visitors intent on making the powers hear their voices. The powers have set their stage at the Wells Fargo Center and the people are marching. As a church planter and peacemaker, I saw a lot of opportunity to engage. So on Monday we marched with the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign and today some of us are marching with Black Lives Matter (2 p.m., Broad and Diamond). I want to give you a few reasons why I am doing this, and offer you an incarnational perspective on it all:
Lots of my friends are marching.
Today, I wasn’t sure I was going to another march in the heat until two of my appointments asked me to reschedule their times with me to attend. I thought, “This is at least one place where many of my brothers and sisters are trying to engage, I guess I’ll see what it’s all about.”
The people marching are looking for hope.
Nevermind the politics for a second, it was clear from my participation in yesterday’s march that people were looking for hope. Something more than what the DNC provides. I know the Author of hope. And even if the people marching are putting hope in changing a decidedly broken and unjust system, perhaps they might meet that Author by meeting me. It’s an opportunity to share the Prince of Peace with the world. Circle of Hope is a practical opportunity for that relationship.
Jesus cares for the poor and the oppressed.
It’s not because they are “innocent,” but the Gospel leans toward the victimized. He meets them in their anger and offers them something more than violence (and yes, political power acquisition is violent). Jesus himself was a victim on the cross, ready to bear the burden of the world, to offer life to all. Jesus is reconciling all things unto himself, including people (Colossians 1:20). He’s not trying to offer oppressive power to the oppressed, but trying to erase the boundaries that the powers have set up (Galatians 3:28). As Mary sings in her Magnificat.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
It’s hard to read that passage (and countless others) without noting the oppressed in the U.S.: the poor, people of color, and refugees are among the most oppressed. I want to show them that Jesus has advocated for them in his life, death, and resurrection. And that he is walking with them now, literally.
It is a reminder that my hope isn’t found in politics.
Yesterdays’ march was quite eclectic. Bryce told me that there wasn’t a very organized message. For most of the march, I was in the middle of Bernie Bros hoping that King Bernie would win the DNC’s nomination (even as he was imploring them to support the presumptive nominee—not surprisingly, he got booed). I felt a little icky at times walking with folks who really thought that their salvation and hope could come from the seat of power, as they were longing for a new moral elite to reign. I don’t think Jesus is about regime change and collecting political power. He wants to create alternatives to the domination system, and I believe that Circle of Hope is one such alternative.
I’m meeting like-minded people who may want to follow Jesus.
I also saw a lot of like-minded people. Someone was holding up a sign for Palestinian human rights. Another was calling for an end to the perpetual war on terror. Still another was advocating for war tax resistance. There was inklings of the Kingdom and I was excited for that. As a participant, I am hoping to help people meet the truth bringer of Hope, Jesus. Jesus cares for the poor, is bringing lasting peace, and is spreading his barrier crushing love. I hope I can be a vessel that holds his Spirit and shows it to the world. This week, that meant marching with the thousands of potential friends in the brutal heat.