Sunday, August 11
By Vincent Guider
“Thoughts and prayers are not enough; it’s time to do something!” I heard people across this nation who were appalled by last week’s brutal mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton emphatically saying that over and over again. They shouted it to media and elected officials in interviews and at rallies “It’s time to do something!” I’ll second that, yes it is time, and I’ll take it one step further. This urgent call to action is not only for media and politicians, it’s for all of us. We need to spring into action right now. There are important things we need to get done and we need to do them today.
Three weeks ago I was really proud of myself for finally setting time aside to stay home and clean out the super junky walk-in closet in my basement. The space was packed with a three year build up of clothes, small furniture, unfinished projects and other mess that had piled up on top of a thick layer of dust on the tile floor. I had been ignoring that disaster area by passing it by every day. I, worked, slept, had fun and even kept other areas of the house sparkling clean, but I continuously placed items in that closet with the intention of eventually organizing everything inside and putting it to good use. But somehow after about three years I never ended up making time to dive into that closet and get busy straightening it out. Mind you, I thought about it over and over again. On a few occasions I even made half hearted attempts to start, but still, I always ended up throwing more stuff in without ever really taking anything out. I neglected that space until it became a dirty, disorganized reflection of my procrastination, distraction and indifference. Now, I meant well. I always believed I’d get the job done some day. Maybe in some small way I was even inwardly heartened by the scriptural definition of FAITH – the substance of things hoped for and evidence of things that cannot be seen (Hebrews 11:1). I had faith that I’d get it done but that was not enough.
Faith alone did not get my closet clean. My action was missing. I needed to get my brain and spirit in sync with my body to get the job done, So, one June day I finally geared myself up to climb in, throw things away, categorize, fold, hang up clothes and scrub the grimey floor. Thank God I actually got it done. Oh Yeah! When the space was eventually nice and clean again, I was amazed by the way sunlight shone in through a glass brick window that had been previously blocked by accumulated junk from the floor to the ceiling. It was a new space and a new beginning. Things were finally being back in place and I could actually relax and breathe again. So what’s the point? That closet reminds me of this defining time in our history. There is societal junk piling up on us and people of faith need to seriously help get things in order.
Violence, white supremacy, indifference, greed, racism, abuse, misogyny, division, sometimes even our silence or indifference, among other evils are threats to true justice in the land. They can overwhelm us and block out our light if we let them. There are issues we cannot only think, talk and pray about. As important as contemplation, rhetoric and prayer are, these are merely first steps. There’s no more time to waste. In our journey of faith we are each called to stop hesitating, making excuses and piling up inhumanities. We are actually on a mission to dive in and attend to the work of (sometimes nerve racking, sometimes inconvenient) kingdom building, such as:
• Venturing out of our comfort zones to give to and receive from cultures different from our own.
• Providing hospitality, shelter and safety to immigrants, migrants or refugees to rebuild their lives.
• Sharing our resources and talents with the poor, the struggling, the lonely, the grieving and disabled.
• Contributing our time and expertise to nurture our youngest, oldest and most vulnerable.
• Giving the underemployed and unemployed support to provide for themselves and their families.
• Accompanying and standing up for the oppressed, the forgotten, the sick and others who suffer.
• Advocating on behalf of the oppressed, the misunderstood, the alienated and those who are unheard.
• Forgiving the formerly incarcerated for past mistakes and helping them to reenter society with dignity.
• Spending time and effort listening, planning, serving and celebrating with those who need uplifting.
• Studying and honoring ways of life we don’t know or understand and humbly sharing ways we do.
• Listening more than speaking. Giving more than taking. Empowering more than overpowering.
Let us no longer give time or quarter to dark, dirty, negative forces building up in our midst and seeking to divide us today. Instead let us be engaged, putting our faith into immediate and intentional action to get things right. We have unfinished business to take care of if we are going to be the unified human family and people of faith we profess to be. Perhaps Jesus expressed it best when He said, “Just as a body without a spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead (James 2:26).”