for you are all children of light and children of the day; we are not of the night or darkness. So then let us not fall asleep as others do, but keep awake and be sober. (1 Thess. 5:5-6)
The recent rhetoric surrounding the exclusion of refugees, the increased deportation of undocumented immigrants, and retreat of healthcare has sent my mind and soul into a tail-spin. There seem to be two competing reactions waging war on the battlefield of my life. Every day I feel the fight or flight impulse: either I want to stand up and fight every single injustice I see and hear, or retreat into the safe enclave of my mind and repeat the conciliatory prayers of “this too shall pass” and “come Lord Jesus.”
Too often I’ve huddled in a dank cave, safe and secure behind the wall of my privilege (I check all the boxes: Male, White, Middle Class, Straight, Christian, Educated). I am able to move through the world protected from having to make a decision. I can glide along, running along the central beam of the teeter-totter of responses, trying to keep everything in balance so I won’t have to choose. It’s as if I close my eyes, convince myself I’m deep in the darkness of night and try to force myself asleep.
But I’m not to be a person still living in darkness, sleep-walking into the sin of inaction. I’m supposed to be awake! Paul calls me, us even, children of light. Enlightened by the Spirit, we know the ways of God which were made manifest in Jesus Christ. Preaching from the scroll of Isaiah, the author of Luke’s Gospel tells us how to interpret Jesus’ (and the Church’s) mission in the world: bring good news to the poor, declare sight to the blind, set the oppressed free, and proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor where all bets of how things used to be are off. While waiting for Jesus to return and complete the kingdom building work he began, we are to live in faith, love, and hope, hallmarks of that same kingdom.
I need to keep awake to the suffering of others. I need to keep awake to the cries of pain and injustice. I need to keep awake to the wails of desperation. Not only do I need to keep awake, but I need to repent “for the Kingdom of Heaven has come near.” (Matthew: 4:17)
May it be so this day.