Turn out the Lights, now I can Hear Part 2— St. Louis Year 2

This is a continuation of the previous post about our family’s journey to St. Louis with the Richardson East Church of Christ Youth Group.  We returned to St. Louis the following year so excited to see everyone again.  Being there was life changing and this quote by Father Greg Boyle last night (March 19, 2018) explains why …

“You don’t go to the margins to rescue and save, you go to the margins because that is where the guides are.  Only those who have been rejected and cut off are qualified to lead the rest of us. ”

This is where I saw people who are overlooked. I mean looking them in the eyes and feeling their pain.  Their anger comes from a need for their physical and spiritual needs to be met, and this cannot happen unless the culture is safe (embodiment). They live in constant stress.  It is a food desert there, education is below standard, and they know they are blamed for the problems in St. Louis (one kid asked us if we believe black people cause all the problems where we are from).  Body, Mind and Spirit could translate to the Trinity, 3 in 1.  Communion is so important to me now – in a way I have never experienced before (and I will say much more of life happened to get me to this point -2016-2017 did a number on me).  Every time I drink from the cup and eat the bread with my church family I am reminded that we must have our Spiritual and physical needs met. We embody Christ together, and we bear the responsibility of community together.  We are participants in the Kingdom of God.  Our allegiance is to that Kingdom and no other.  And we bring the Kingdom now, not later.  (More on that in another post, our theology of the after life has caused a lot of harm and needs a post of it’s own.  Many have written on it, but I want to write from my perspective and I hope more people will do the same).  I have also learned that while life is not all about me –I am about life.  Richard Rohr writes so beautifully about this flow – it isn’t throwing out individualism completely because who we are matters to the flow of life, but our life is for the whole.

So this year I actually get sick and get a whole new perspective on fear.  This year I feel the fear by being alone at night while everyone goes to The Arch.  I had a fever and  could not get out. The church is gated but it can be climbed as it is an 8 foot chainlink gate.  Our family stayed in the rectory while the youth group and chaperones stayed where the nuns would have been housed.  Side note: There is a difference in living conditions for the Priest and the nuns. I figured I would sleep all night and no one would know I was there.  No one knew I was there, but the challenge was to keep it that way – I had to go to the bathroom and I could not turn on the lights.  I was sick and crawling on the ground trying to get to the bathroom.  That is no way to live!  This would cause chronic stress.  Then the boys did come to the gate trying to climb over to play basketball.  By this point I am calling Jeff, Kera and Jake to see how far away they are now.

Those of us privileged to have an opinion on what we think about poverty, violence, wage gaps, etc need to go to the areas that do not get to decide what they believe.  They are our guides.   Why would a nation as rich as ours have food deserts and violence?  If we believe people are poor solely because they are lazy then we are not paying attention.  We put section 8 housing in isolated areas creating ghettos.  Studies are showing integrating Section 8 Housing in flourishing neighborhoods produces good fruit. Our housing is also racialized: this is a fact. Our gap between the rich and the poor is becoming a danger to our humanity.  Teachers, a professional job with a college degree, are having to get food stamps! Christ followers need to take a much harder look at poverty.  Christ was with the poor because truth and love reside at the bottom.  Richard Stearns, WorldVision CEO, wrote this in “The Hole in our Gospel” – If you want to see Jesus you will see him in the face of the poor. The Hole in our Gospel is the book that began my awakening. St. Louis showed me Jesus in the flesh for the first time.  The violence we see in America is the voice of the unheard.  Martin Luther King Jr. never promoted violence, but said when it happens it comes from those who are unheard.  It is time we stop talking and start listening.  We have a nation that is in pain.

Circling back to communion.  I love how Jonathan Martin describes Paul’s critique of the Corinthians coming “unworthily” to the table.  Jonathan says this, “context being – their table practice mirrored that of dominant culture; the wealthy ate their fill, the poor got scraps.  I see coming to the table in humility as an act of repentance itself”.  This is the Revival  he is hoping for again in the church.  Shane Claiborne is orchestrating a Lynchburg , VA Revival April 6-7, 2018.  Jonathan Martin describes Revival (renewal) when God’s people align their hearts with the poor, the marginalized, the ones most oppressed – this the revival God is looking for.

Richard Stearns, WorldVision, version of Mathew 25 summed up well for today.

“For I was hungry, while you had all you needed.  I was thirsty, but you drank bottled water.  I was a stranger, and you wanted me deported.  I needed clothes, but you needed more clothes.  I was sick, and you pointed out my behaviors that led to my sickness.  I was in prison, and you said I was getting what I deserved.”



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