“I woke up this morning with my mind set on freedom…” The Justice Choir, Poor People’s Campaign
What a way to start the morning! I woke up early, left my sleeping wife and dogs, and took my coffee to the porch. A little cloud cover and a slight breeze made for an excellent morning to pray and meditate in the cool of the day.
Yesterday was the culmination of the last forty days of the Poor People’s Campaign, A National Call for Moral Revival. Fifty years ago this week, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led the original Poor People’s Campaign to Washington D.C. I sat and listened to the livestream of the rally in Washington and became incredibly grateful for those that continue to work for justice, peace, and a better life for all people and not a select few.
I have to tell you about a news report about James Comey, the former FBI Director. It seems he was going to Dublin, Ireland on his book tour. Upon arrival he commented to his wife that they should tell the Irish immigration officials they were Canadian. They were ashamed to be Americans in the current world situation. I understand completely. I’m embarrassed by association, but I’m reminded by the Poor Peoples Campaign of the good, decent human beings who strive daily for social and economic equality and justice. They are what I always thought the country of my birth was about.
I’m grateful for the life God has granted me. I’m under no illusions about the advantages of my birth, my family, and even my home, especially when I compare my life to the majority of the world’s population. I live better than most and I know that’s a privilege and a blessing I’ve been given – even when we struggle with health and financial issues. My son, who doesn’t share my spiritual beliefs, asked me once if being poor meant that God thought less of poor folks. It’s a legitimate question. Watch a few minutes of most televangelists and it doesn’t take long to assume that you’re out of God’s favor if you aren’t blessed financially. According to them, you’re just not praying with the right heart. God is a cosmic Santa Claus and he’ll give you everything you ask for if you ask the right way and do the right things. It’s no wonder my son questions such a God! I would, too…
I know that humans have an innate ability to make a mess of things. I know from personal experience that I can be pretty good at creating havoc in my life and the community in general. I know that power, class, and social structures are created by fallible men and I can’t blame a loving Higher Power for their, or my place in the system. However, I am obligated by my relationship with the God of my understanding to speak out against economic and social injustice in the world. I guess that’s why I enjoyed the livestream so much. It touched my spirit and invited me to live and love better.
I’ve known poverty, both in the economic and the spiritual sense. Spiritually, my Higher Power calls me to poverty. In Matthew 5:3, Jesus said, “You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and His rule”. The older versions of his sermon call it being “poor in spirit”. I couldn’t get out of the way until I had nowhere else to go. In recovery programs, it’s called ‘hitting bottom’. I was so poor spiritually that I had no way out of my predicament. If there’s anything to the ‘Prosperity Gospel’, it’s that when I finally recognize my spiritual poverty, I begin to experience God’s grace – and everything is grace – and what a prosperous life it is!
Economically, my wife and I have experienced ‘enough’. We live paycheck to paycheck but there’s always ‘enough’. That’s what poor people ask for when the march in campaigns and hold rallies. That’s what they cry for when they ask for a return to morality – to live in a society of morals and values that don’t exclude them. Men and their institutions would have us believe in scarcity of resources, time, and money. Yet, God’s kingdom, His way of living, says there’s enough for all His kids. When the Poor People’s Campaign calls for a return to some semblance of morality they are saying ‘enough’ – not only is there enough wealth and resources to go around – they’re speaking to the morals and values we claim to hold dear. They are “speaking the truth to power”.
I’m filled with hope when I see people coming together to ask for ‘enough’ – enough food, enough healthcare, enough justice, enough economic and social equality – for everyone. I’m filled with hope when people take time out of their lives to stand together and try to do what’s right. I’m filled with hope that maybe, just maybe, there’s a tiny chance that the world my grandchildren inherit will be a little better, that they’ll have ‘enough’.
It’s easy to become jaded when I peruse the news as is my daily habit. Then I read about things like the couple in California who started a Facebook campaign to raise $1500.00 to post bond for immigrant families separated by the injustice of Mr. Trump and his cronies. As of yesterday, NPR reported that they’ve raised nineteen million dollars. It’s the largest fundraiser ever on Facebook. Suddenly, I’m not quite as embarrassed by being from America. I’m reminded of Jesus’ admonition to, “Keep an open house; be generous with your lives”. Sometimes, we get it!
This morning I’m filled with hope. I’m so grateful. It’s such a blessing to have ‘enough’…