Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Sanctuary

This week Jim Wallis over at Sojourners reflected in his blog on the eviction of Occupy Wall Street from Zuccotti Park. He suggests that if/ when there comes a time when the protesters have nowhere to go, local churches should step in. He suggests that this would promote intergenerational understanding and give protesters a rest from protesters' conflict with municipal authorities- and it would be an expression of the mission of the Church:

"Jesus is a popular guy among the thousands of Occupy sites around the world, and faith is a lively topic — even if religion is suspect as an institution of an unjust society. So as the young protesters are made to feel unwelcome by the municipal authorities in cities around the country, let us make them feel very genuinely welcomed in our faith communities. This could be a great opportunity for hospitality, for ministry, for solidarity, for faith conversation and, yes, for prophetic witness as churches and people of faith speak up for the economic justice that is at the heart of biblical faith and is an integral part of the gospel."
I think this is a bit of a tall order, but the mission of Jesus Christ is definitely a tall order! Going to Occupy Boston has really stretched me and required me to be more accepting of people who are very different than me. Most of them think differently than I do. But when I take the time to listen, I can usually find something in common with them. Local churches often show trepidation at taking in folks who are very different, even if it is just temporary, like the mobile homeless shelter in Ashland. While it can be uncomfortable at first, it is rewarding. Historically, the Church has been a place of rest and shelter, and that is a tradition we can proudly uphold, even if we are challenged. In fact, I have a sneaking suspicion that Jesus intended for us to be challenged when he called us to love our neighbors.

In a sense, we all need a rest from the injustices in our society. There are even those among us who are displaced, perhaps not in the sense of being refugees, but displaced in other ways by home foreclosure, job loss/ underemployment, or overwhelming debt. We need to care for one another and remember the heart of our faith, even if we live in areas far from any Occupies. I wonder what we can do to make our faith community a place of rest and shelter for all — for us and for those who are not (yet) part of our community.

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