Archive for December 2014

Somewhere Between Hope and Peace

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     It almost feels appropriate that so much unrest and outcry about injustice is happening during advent.  The dark reality is that injustice,  racism,  hatred,  and violence has been going on all along,  it's just that suddenly it's more visible... at least to some people.  


     If you are non-white,  or live in a diverse urban area,  the head lines only serve to confirm something we've already been witness too. A dark reality we've already been a part of. 
     Regularly I get asked if I am afraid for my life to live where I do.  I get told often how afraid they would be if they substitute taught at Hammond High or Eggers middle school,  the 2 secondary schools downtown. 
     This rhetoric continues to shock me. Why should I be afraid? 
      My follow up question is almost always met with an awkward gaze and uncomfortable silence.  They don't want to say what they mean,  because they think as an educated white middle class woman the same fear resides within me.  A fear of the unknown,  a fear of seeing things that make us uncomfortable,  a fear of being the only person in the room who looks like us,  a fear of kids who have been raised with little guidance or hope,  and let's just address the elephant in the room,  a fear of black and hispanic people. 
      Fear. It's often under the surface of our conversations about race. It's in our comments about "that part of town". It's even ever present in our movies and television shows,  where the young white teacher goes to teach at the urban predominantly black school and is met with violent and drug addicted stereotype black students.
     Fear.  It's consumed my Facebook newsfeed. Two distinct groups of people,  both afraid. One afraid to raise children in a world they could be killed just because of their skin color,  or afraid for humanity as it seems we can't move forward with grace and love.  The other,  afraid to listen,  afraid they might be wrong,  afraid of a world where the police they have always trusted might be wrong. 
     I straddle both of those worlds. I'm afraid at times to raise half black children in this world,  afraid for my students and neighbors,  yet I've always trusted police,  never experienced issues with my race (though when I'm with my husband,  it's a different experience), afraid at times that maybe I'm not as honest about my own biases as I could be,  and afraid I might be wrong. 
     Fear.  We live in fear. 

      Yet,  we long for something else. Something more.  Something greater. 
     In the midst of our fear,  we long for a world without fear,  a world of understanding,  of grace,  of love,  of hope. 
     That's what advent is.  Longing for more,  looking for more,  hoping for more,  and ultimately seeing that come in Christ.
     We didn't invent fear,  racism,  corruption.  That all existed 2 thousand years ago too. In a small town of Bethlehem.  Where the military state controlled all aspects of life. Where to be a Jew,  meant oppression. In the midst of this world of violence,  of pain,  of suffering,  of fear,  an angel shows up to a group of smelly outcasts. 

               "Fear not" the angel says.  Was that spoken just for that moment?  Maybe,  but their entire world was fear. It is no accident they are being told not to fear. 
        But why should the fear stop,  "because I bring glad tidings of great joy,  which shall be for ALL people.  For today,  in the city of David,  a savior has been born to you,  he is Christ the LORD".
          God had broken into the midst of fear,  of loneliness, of pain,  of confusion,  to bring joy,  hope,  love,  heading,  and peace.
         The good news of advent is,  that Christ still comes.  He comes in our compassion,  in our love,  in our service,  in our grace.  He came, he comes,  and is coming again to fulfill what was started in a world of fear,  doubt,  and pain.  He is coming to make all things right. 


       So today,  we sit between the first and second week of advent, between hope and peace.  We don't just sit their metaphorically,  but we sit their as individuals,  as communities,  and as a nation.  We sit with a decision like the shepherds of old,  to go and see this thing the angel said, to embrace the news,  to share the news,  to abandon our fear for love and grace,  or to stay,  to be stunted by our fear,  and miss out on the greatest miracle of all.  

    I don't know about you,  but I am tired of being afraid,  tired of doubt,  of loneliness,  and hatred,  so I'm running as fast as i can, doing all within my power to bring hope,  peace,  joy,  and love to this world that so desperately needs it.
    I am sharing with all this advent "fear not,  for I bring glad tidings of great joy for ALL people,  no matter who you are,  what you look like,  your economic status,  your gender,  your race,  there is a savior, he is Christ the LORD"