A big THANK YOU to everyone who participated in LOVE ELGIN DAY this past Saturday. It was so great to see the number of people who call FCC home out there serving those Jesus referred to as ‘the least of these’ (Matt. 25:40). Your work demonstrated, in a real visible way to this city, what it looks like when God Reigns. . . what it looks like when what Jesus referred to as the Kingdom of Heaven, touches down on earth in a real and concrete way.
However, there was a moment for me that stands out in my mind. It was about 7:30 and I was standing on Division St. watching the line of people form. I stood there for a moment looking deeply into the faces. What I saw was great sadness, weariness, grief. I saw people who looked almost shell shocked. . . with eyes that seemed to shout “How did my life end up here?”
And then. . . I got a feeling I didn’t really expect.
I got angry!!
This is my third Love Elgin Day, and if you were to ask me about my feelings on those other two occasions, I probably would have said something like: gladness that comes from serving, the joy of seeing the body of Christ working together as ONE.
But this time was different. This time. . . it made me mad.
I think I know what was different. Biblical Scholars often refer to the prophets of the Old Testament as having, what they call, a holy discontent with the status quo. They looked at the injustices in the land, and what that was doing to the people. . .people God loved. . . and it provoked them to speak out. Their holy discontent is recorded in places like Isaiah 1, Amos 5, and so many others.
And, although I believe what we are doing in this events are important, that it meets a vital need, and demonstrates to a lost world what the Kingdom is like, I believe it should also stir up within each of us a vital question.
Why, in one of the riches nations of earth, are there still so many who are poor??
Now, I understand that asking this question is dangerous. I’m reminded of Dom Helder Camara who became a bishop of the Catholic Church and one of the twentieth century’s great apostles of nonviolence. After joining a conservative political movement as a young priest, Camara experienced a conversion while ministering among the poor in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro. He made this important observation: “When I fed the poor they called me a saint. When I asked why they were poor, they called me a Communist.”
The principalities and powers of this world, the gardens of the status quo, don’t take to well to those who rock the boat. They tend to slander and seek to silence the voice of the prophet. That’s why so many end up dead.
But as followers of Jesus. . .as followers of the one whose words and actions landed him on a cross. . . speaking up for and on behalf of the marginalized and forgotten is not optional. Its part of the job description.
And so as we bask in the afterglow of all that God did in and through us this weekend, let it not stop there. Let it lead us to look at the poverty around us everyday and stir within us a holy disconnect for the status quo. And then allow the Holy Spirit to led us into uncharted waters.