I write this having just learned that a person with whom we have worked closely will soon be deported to his home country. For fifteen years, he's been part of our Annapolis community. We have rallied around him. We have shouted his name and his case at the authorities. We have called our senators. One of us went to a senator's office to ask that he intervene.
We lost because the world as it is not the world as it should be.
We didn't give up. Our Missions Team is actively working together to come up with ways to help our friend once he does go back to his home country. We've developed support networks for his family in Annapolis so they can go to school at get good paying jobs. With the Annapolis Sanctuary Network, we are collecting funds to assist other refugees. We're working actively with CASA de Maryland to be part of a solution. If we truly feel called to this ministry - and some of us clearly do, however, we'll want to form real, close, and meaningful relationships with people.
I am told by many of you that, "God has a plan." I don't doubt that for a moment. Perhaps at this point, God's plan is to remind us just whose country this is and who is supposed to do something about it: us. This was a nation founded on the hope for those who do not have enough, wherever they were in the world, so that they might come to a place of having enough. It has not always looked like that, but it is the hope. And if we think about any situation in which an injustice deprived people of their personhood and belonging, such as the story of organizing around the Civil Rights movement as Charles Payne tells it in this article, people have organized together to demand that justice.
Not just shouting and carrying signs and assumed their rightness. Organizing..
It's how the Israelites escaped Pharaoh. It's how Jesus started a movement. He found out what people cared about and brought them together. It turns out most of us have a lot in common; we rarely need to be told what matters. We simply do not know or believe that we can influence the world around us -- or, that God's Spirit is with us.
The "summer of transformation" that we're currently are working through is about that. It's about climbing a ladder that God has given us, and developing the courage together to be able to move up each rung and with each rung, bring us closer to the world as it should be, the promised land, Zion, the land flowing with milk and honey. It means we have to work, mostly on better relationships and trust building! And as a ladder is connecting knots and ropes, we are invited to connect ourselves together and get to know and trust the people with whom we live, work, and worship. It won't be fast work. It never has been, and it never will be. As our story tells it, it took forty years for the Israelites to reach the promised land, a number significant not so much for its accuracy as the representation of the amount of time it takes for a shift in community culture, or a new perspective on the world, to occur.
I'm on that journey with you and God, getting to know each of you and people I don't know, shifting our world toward the world God calls us into, climbing each rung of Jacob's Ladder as we go. I hope you are, too.
Let's get organized together, thanks be to God.