Monday, January 25, 2010

the year of the Lord's favour

thanks to Trey Morgan for the germination of this post.

i keep looking around my church gathering and i only see how homogenous we are. we're very white, very well educated, very middle class, and very much out of touch with the immediate community right around us. our church community meets in the middle of one of the poorest neighbourhoods in all of this wonderfully blessed land and yet ... we're ... out of touch with that.

a friend died over New Year's this year. E was wracked with addiction, and she seldom hung on to housing for more than a couple months at a time. she was visibly different than me because she was a visible minority and i am not but several times when i saw her (most of the time she sat in front of the grocery store with a hat in front of her) she made sure to tell me that she loved me. yes she had a massive crush on me but it was always flattering. she died when she tried to sleep one off in a bus shack during a -30 C cold snap.

she came into our worship space once and i happened to see her. i greeted her and welcomed her and i even told her that she was welcome to stay for our common meal time after the service. she didn't show up. as i sat in worship yesterday i thought of her because i had only just learned of her death two days prior. i thought of her when she came to visit our community.

are we welcoming to the other? are we scared of a face that is unlike our own? do we not say what we could say because she had a tattoo on her chin or her hair is neon blue and that's just so unlike the people i know?

Jesus stood in the synagogue and read from Isaiah saying "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor" (Luke 4:18-19). all i could think about was, "but she's dead God, what am i supposed to do with that?". i didn't hear the homily yesterday as i grieved for E and prayed for the poor, the addicted, the oppressed, the prisoner, the blind and i prayed for me.

why don't we welcome the other? Jesus gravitated to the other, and i do not. not nearly enough anyway.

is this the year of the Lord's favour? she's dead and i don't know what i'm supposed to do with that.


tracey said...

lots to think about. my church is ethnically but not economically diverse.

Al said...

Even if I say I agree with what you say, I am still often guilty of turning a blind eye, walking on the other side of the street or sidewalk, or cringing when one of the 'others' are too close.
But, I'm glad for every time I've pushed past the (man-made) barriers that so easily separate us.

I have been thinking a bit these past months about the Lord's 'favor'. If God favors anyone over anyone else (and in many ways, I don't think he does), it isn't those of us who pray harder, jump higher, or whatever. God isn't going to bless me more because I am a better anything. As you quoted from Isaiah, his favor is on the poor, the prisoners, the blind and the oppressed.

It's hard to handle the death of someone like your friend. You know she could have made it if things had just been a bit better for her. And the place where she should have expected to get the support she needed, isn't ready for people like her.

Circumstances like this bring it close to home, and that usually helps get things moving in a way that little else can.

I don't know why the church is so blind. But some of us aren't, and we can continue to make a difference where we are. "You in your small corner, and I in mine."

Peace, brother.


VERY well said, my friend. :)