Sunday, February 25th
By Rachel Lyons
We Hunger for Justice: Farewell and Keep Fighting
This simple prayer before meals always tugs at my heart: “O God, to us who have hunger give bread, and to us who have bread give a hunger for justice.” I think about it each Lent, as we enter into practices of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving more intentionally as a church.
This year, I am working on fasting from fear. What I am realizing is that the moments I feel far from God, far from my true self, are moments when I let fear in and I let it take over. I fall into patterns that keep me from truly embracing and using my gifts as God dreamed for me. I realize fear when I have been taught to over-apologize, particularly as a woman, rather than hold my ground confidently. I realize fear when I have been taught to look the other way at poverty, particularly as a person with wealth, rather than share my abundance. I realize fear when I have been taught that personal achievement got me somewhere, especially as a white person, rather than understand the deep, systemic nature of racism and white supremacy in our country. But over and over again in Scripture, we hear the simple words, “Do not be afraid.”
So for Lent, I’m tapping into moments of fear and learning how to fast from them. I hope that in some small way I am nurturing the Divine spark within me, the part of me that is willing to enter into the unknown, the part that is willing to take risks – because discipleship demands it. I am learning how to hunger for justice.
Four and a half years ago, my hunger led me to Chicago and to Old St. Pat’s and to this community. And now it leads me onward. There are many moments of fear as I make this transition, but I’m trusting in the Spirit to guide me. I have accepted a job offer at the Br. David Darst Center, a place known for its social justice education and immersion retreats with high school and college students. I will start as their Program Director on March 1st, and so this will be my last Awakenings article to you all.
From my time as an intern to now, I am incredibly grateful for all the ways we had a hunger for justice together – during workshops in every Season for Social Justice, on early morning bus rides to Springfield, in JustFaith dialog sessions, in peace circles at St. Agatha, signing postcards for immigration reform, writing letters to people who are incarcerated, laughing with families at YMEN and Greater Love and our many Kinship partners in North Lawndale, setting up for the Solidarity Market, creating a system for recycling across campus, praying and processing through tragedies and losses, and getting up again the next day with renewed energy to dream what the kin-dom of God can be here and now.
Thank you for these moments and so many more. Thank you for the countless ways you welcomed me with open arms, and for the times we walked arm-in-arm to fight for our values, our faith, and our human and earthly family.
A special thank you to every team of passionate, committed, and courageous leaders I was able to work with and learn from here at OSP. You continue to make space for challenging conversations, faithful prayer, and bold action. You keep the hunger for justice at the forefront of our lives, aching within us, beckoning us to be agents of change. We need you, so keep fighting. Thank you to every OSP member and friend who poured out your cup for the good of others. To everyone who shared with me life wisdom, who encouraged me, who opened your heart to service and ministry, who went to Lawndale and felt the grace of a new neighbor in Christ, who prayed for me while on my Beloved retreat, who gave me critical feedback that helped me grow, who entrusted me with your story, your questions, your vulnerabilities. I am honored to know so many of you, and to those I have not met, I extend my thank you for being a part of this community and sharing your gifts.
Finally, thank you to the OSP staff, a team of people who work all kinds of early mornings and late nights and weekends to ensure we are a place of hospitality, love, service, and acceptance. You have been there for me time and time again. You pour your hearts into this place and her people, and we are better for it. You keep the hunger for good church, for connection, for soul-space, and yes, for justice, alive and well. I appreciate you, I thank you, and I will keep you in my heart.
The hunger for justice will continue at Old St. Pat’s in each of you – and I am excited to imagine what lies ahead for this ministry. I pray that we will keep fighting feelings of fear and co-create more space for inclusion, love, and justice. I invite each of you to listen to the Spirit this Lenten season and to contemplate deeply what you hunger for: maybe finally calling that relative or friend you need to, or making space in your calendar and in your heart for a Kinship event in Lawndale, or simple taking rest in God’s embrace, or making eye contact with your neighbor, or realizing you can take a risk for discipleship. May we continue to hunger for justice until all are fed, until all are cared for according to their need, until all are free.