Do you hear the people sing?
Singing the song of angry men?
It is the music of the people
Who will not be slaves again!
When the beating of your heart
Echoes the beating of the drums
There is a life about to start
When tomorrow comes.
When all Hope Seems Lost by Lisa Hunt-Wotton
Today I would like to take some time to share my thoughts on the 2016 American election. This has occupied much of my thoughts as I am sure it has yours. You will be aware of the political upheavals that have been happening across the globe. First Brexit and then last week the American election where to our horror we saw Donald Trump become the President Elect.
The world went into shock and social media, the press and most conversations were centred around why and how did this happen. Commentators and historians have been discussing political theories around left and right wing belief systems. The social status of the haves and have nots and how they voted. We have heard statistical breakdowns of gender votes. We watched in horror as a man whose words and lifestyle flaunted his misogynistic attitude to women, his mocking behaviour of the disabled, his white supremacist attitude to ethnic minorities and his bullying and name calling tactics throughout the election.
The basis of every revolution has been oppression. The people are tired, tired of the elite, tired of the system, tired of not having enough to flourish. They feel used, unheard and exhausted with academic rhetoric. Whether we like Trump or Hilary is not the issue here. The issue is that the people have been heard. They will overlook all of the above about Donald Trump because they want one thing. Change. They believe that Trump is the one candidate that could possibly give it to them.
Yes there are issues around racism, xenophobia, fear and economic crisis. But I believe that the overriding factor here is that the people are tired of the system, they are tired of institutions, they are tired of lies and broken promises and they want change. The ‘institution’ whether it be religion, the banks or politics is out of step with the people. It is out of touch with those living on the margins, with those who are invisible when the policies, programming and planning is being done. The ‘holy huddle’, or the political elite are completely removed from the daily grind and battle of everyday people.
“The center is not the place where Christian faith should be anyway: it was born on the margins to serve the whole humanity … social marginality is not to be bemoaned but celebrated.” Miroslav Volf.
You may already feel that you are living in the margins, you may identify with the sense of hopelessness of every day life and how bloody hard it is to keep going, to put food on the table to pay the bills. If however you are financially and emotionally surviving in this world you have an obligation to your neighbour. You have an obligation to hear their story, to understand, but much more than that you are obligated to befriend, to love and to help carry the load.
And hear this. If you are not doing life with those in the margins then something is wrong with your version of the Gospel. The Gospel was never meant to be talked about or taught it was meant to be lived and demonstrated.
We need to reframe how we are to live in this new space. The people have spoken and they have definitely got our attention. We need to think less about how we got here and more about how we are going to live here.
There were two trees in the Garden.
When we go back to the very beginning, to Genesis and look at the garden of Eden. We are shown an example of the two ways that we can live our lives. One is to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. This is where we have been living most of the last few months. This is dualistic thinking. It is all about good and evil, right and wrong. Usually “I am right and you are wrong”. However this attitude will only polarise and divide us. We become full of knowledge about why and how and what history and commentators say about his and that. This then empowers our reasoning about why we are right. The tree is there for us to eat from, it is okay to be informed, it is important to be able to discern between good and evil but I don’t believe that we are to live here.
The Tree of Life is where we are to live and receive our nourishment. Jesus is the tree of life. When we eat from this tree we flourish. Jesus said that “I have come that you can have life and life more abundantly”. When Jesus came He offered a way ‘other than’ the one that was being presented by the oppressors of the day, which was the political regime and the religious institution. Both of who were the elite and at the top of the social class structure. That is why Jesus went to the margins, to the unclean, to the unlovely, to those who were invisible in this social structure.
Yesterday in our little Warrandyte community gathering we discussed the last weeks events and how it had effected us. The following scripture was shared.
I have pitched my tent in the land of hope.
I saw God before me. Nothing can shake me; he’s right by my side. I’m glad from the inside out; I’ve pitched my tent in the land of hope. I know you’ll never dump me in Hell; I’ll never even smell the stench of death. You’ve got my feet on the life-path,
with your face shining sun-joy all around. Acts 2:25-28
When all Hope Seems Lost
Thousands of years ago David chose the way of life when he was being persecuted and betrayed. Centuries after that Peter the Apostle chose the path of life even after his friend and saviour was crucified and all hope must have seemed to be gone. Today we too now can chose to pitch our tent in the house of Hope. We can chose to eat from the tree of life. We can chose to be people of hope and love and compassion. When we chose this we cannot be shaken. Love is the eternal and defining force that predicts the people of God. “They will know you are my followers when you demonstrate love to one another” (John 13:35).
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