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The Resistance Prays

January 25, 2019
By Rev. Erin Spengeman Hutchison

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Today's Top Story
News outlets everywhere reported yesterday that two bills presented to the Senate to end the shutdown were both rejected, continuing the longest government shutdown in U.S. history. Meanwhile, federal workers will miss another payday today, forcing many to hawk their possessions and stand in food bank lines (a hardship cruelly misunderstood by the out-of-touch U.S. Commerce Secretary).
Jesus went back to Nazareth, where he grew up, and as usual he went to the meeting place on the Sabbath. When he stood up to read from the Scriptures, he was given the book of Isaiah the prophet. He opened it and read,

“The Lord’s Spirit has come to me,
because he has chosen me to tell the good news to the poor.
The Lord has sent me
to announce freedom for prisoners,
to give sight to the blind,
to free everyone who suffers,
and to say, ‘This is the year the Lord has chosen.’”

Jesus closed the book, then handed it back to the man in charge and sat down. Everyone in the meeting place looked straight at Jesus.

Then Jesus said to them, “What you have just heard me read has come true today.” - Luke 4:16-21
The Government Is Shut Down, But the Spirit Is Still at Work
Yes, we’ve talked about the shutdown before - it's Day 35. No, this isn’t new news. But this deserves our prayer, because the harm here is so multi-faceted: American workers are being used as pawns in a political stunt, held hostage by their very own elected officials—forced to work without pay, forced to beg their landlords and creditors for financial mercy, their children forced to go hungry. How will these Americans purchase essential medication, keep the heat on in such cold weather, keep their medical insurance, keep from being evicted? (Not to mention that contractors won’t get paid at all. Not to mention that national parks are being trashed and destroyed while there’s no federal workers around. Not to mention that local economies with a concentration of federal workers are struggling.)

And for what?—All for the idolatry of a wall. All for a monument to racism. All for a middle finger to asylum-seekers. All for a sacrifice and offering to the gods of fear. (Not to mention that the building of a wall would be an ecological disaster. Not to mention that hundreds of miles and thousands of acres of privately owned land would be subject to eminent domain. Not to mention that our country’s drug-smuggling problem isn’t arriving in the lowly backpacks of dusty-soled migrants. Not to mention that statistics show that the largest percentage of undocumented immigrants don't cross at the southern border, but rather overstay legal visas.)
Jesus stands up, walks to the front of the synagogue, looks the people in the eye, and speaks up. He knows of the daily suffering of regular people. He knows how the world works. He knows how capitalism and economics work. And yet!—he proclaims the opposite! Jesus clearly and plainly tells us that the poor will have good news. That we will be free from suffering. That what seems impossible will, in fact, be possible. We are reminded that the Spirit is present and working. We are reminded that the Spirit is with us, too—urging us to catch God’s vision of a new reality and world order and run with it.
The Spirit of the Lord is upon you. You! Catch the vision. Proclaim the way of God. Refuse to fall prey to fear or falsehoods. Stand up, join hands with God and with one another, and proclaim the good news that God knows about our suffering and is ready to free us. And join in the work.
Again, call your lawmakers and demand they stop this shutdown nonsense. Check on your friends who are furloughed and offer them support and help.
O God, we beg of you: may this be the year you choose to relieve our suffering. O Spirit, please come to us and to our aid. O Jesus, stand with us, look us in the eye and speak to us your reminders that you side with the oppressed, the hurting, the poor, the blind, the imprisoned, the scared, the asylum-seeker, the child, the suffering. Please help us to stand with you and stand with those who are suffering. And, for God’s sake, please end this shutdown. Amen.
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