A Word from Our Pastor 2017 February

There’s a saying, that’s supposedly a curse: “May you live in interesting times.”

Some people say it’s from Chinese tradition, but who knows. . . The point is that peaceful times are dull – we go on living comfortably, with some daily cares, but nothing that is really disruptive or too problematic comes along. When we face big challenges, when there is radical change that we can’t seem to manage, things are “interesting.”

Certainly, now more than in many years, we live in interesting times. On Inauguration Day, I was involved in a Muslim Solidarity Dinner; it was a comfort to be with a room full of people of good will, who are willing to take action to address the suffering of people in their neighborhoods as well as half way across the world. It was a good antidote to the divisive and hateful rhetoric of the campaign.

The next day, along with 20,000 or 60,000 or ? other people, I participated in the Women’s March in Oakland. I didn’t think a lot about why I would march; I knew I would, and even made a pink pussy hat to wear. There were just too many reasons. There were people there who cared about women’s reproductive rights, health care, the rights of immigrants, of Muslims, of LGBTQ folks; about women’s rights in general, Black Lives Matter, the differently able, the environment, about human rights issues all over the world. Suzanne Yoshii and I walked with Honor Nono’s group, “Filipino Advocates for Justice,” that addresses concerns of Filipino workers, mostly domestic workers. I care about all these things, but mostly, I wanted to demonstrate to the newly inaugurated President that he does not have a mandate for so many of his campaign “threats” (i.e., “promises”). That there are millions of people, not only women, who oppose much of what Trump proposes he will do. It was important to me that I show up for what I believe in.

I don’t believe that my opposition to Trump’s platform is fundamentally political. For me, as I have been saying in worship, it is about responding to Jesus’ call to minister to the “least, the last and the lost.” For example, the folks who don’t have decent health care, who are fleeing their homelands in fear, who are underpaid and exploited, who are treated as less than human by (some) police, their co-workers or even abusive family members; those who have been marginalized because of who they love, those who are hungry and homeless, under threat by forces they cannot face. There is so, so much to do. Pray God to give us strength and vision to do this work.
So, of course, all this made me think of a Bible Story:

Luke 18:1-8 New International Version (NIV)
The Parable of the Persistent Widow
18 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. 2 He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. 3 And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’
4 “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’”
6 And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7 And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8 I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”

The meaning of the story is pretty clear, isn’t it? Well, actually there’s a couple of meanings here. First, we’re supposed to keep praying, and then God will bring about justice. But this praying involves crying out day and night, taking the need we feel or see very, very seriously, and not giving up on prayer. Perhaps we will understand more deeply what “real” need is, if we pray enough. Perhaps the needs of others will become more real to us, as well, if we commit ourselves to prayer.

The second meaning, is perhaps more literal. If we think of President Trump as the unjust judge, we, as the widow, have to keep bothering him (and his cabinet); we should watch his every move, and pursue justice incessantly. However, today, he shut down the White House “call – in” line: he doesn’t want to hear from us. We’re supposed to comment on the White House Facebook page!!!!
(It’s a slap in the face to those who don’t do Facebook). We’ll just have to think of a work around for that.

So, please pray with me, pray a lot! And as we go forward, let’s keeping talking about what our church can do to protect and advocate for the “least, the last, and the lost.” And, remember the persistent widow and the unjust judge! May you live in interesting times!
–Rev. Naomi