TAKING IT TO THE STREETS

     The year was 1922. The place was Kiev, in the Soviet Union. The occasion was a large anti-religious rally. The featured speaker was the revered Soviet politician and orator Nikolai Bukharin. Thousands had arrived to listen to his words. He stood up and spoke for over an hour – preaching atheism and pouring insults on those who believed in God. Finally he sat down, and the chairman asked if there were any questions. There was silence.

     But then, a man stood up near the back. He was elderly, with a beard, and dressed in the habit of an Orthodox monk. Slowly he made his way forward, passing row after row of people, until he reached the front, and slowly climbed onto the stage. He turned stood facing the crowd. They sat looking at him with silent expectation.

     Then, he raised his arms, and in a loud, confident voice cried out, “Alleluia!  Christ is risen!” And at once, the huge crowd rose to its feet and thundered out, “The Lord is Risen Indeed!  Alleluia!” Resurrection was in the spiritual DNA of those people. No matter how much they were told the opposite, how much they were forced to live as if there were no God, the seeds of hope lay deep in their souls, latent and waiting. The seeds had been planted in their DNA by their ancestors long ago and preserved by the stories over the ages. The time had come. This was the moment that they had been waiting for.

     In the midst of all of the chaos that swirls around us in our nation and in our world today, could it be that this is the moment we have been waiting for? It surely feels for many that we are a breaking point that is forcing change. Within these tense and confusing times, where is our hope to come from?

     This past Saturday, millions of people – young people took to the streets to protest the indignity of sacrificing human lives on the altar of the right to own assault weapons. As I watched the sea of mostly young people speaking truth and demanding change, I knew that this was a moment that many have been waiting for. And like that seed of truth that had been planted within the hearts of those in Kiev by their ancestors, so too our seed of hope is beginning to break the hard-pan surface of oppressive ways that are not serving the common good. The March For Life campaign is just the most recent seed of hope that is breaking through. The past two years have featured yet millions more people marching and demanding dignity and the end of oppressive violence against women as the Women’s March continues and is not going away. The voices of the oppressed are literally crying out from the streets and they will not be silenced.

     So, this is where Jesus and the hope of Easter Resurrection comes in. Where do you think Jesus would be today? I am quite certain that he would be in the streets with those protesting and standing for the most marginalized and vulnerable among us. His history proves that he most assuredly wouldn’t be anywhere else except in the thick of it all, his face and feet would not only be part of the sea of protest, but he would most likely  be right up front with Emma Gonzalez and the other prophets of our own time that are calling for change.     

     The resurrection story of Easter is one of startling and profound hope that has changed the world, but if we as Christians are to have integrity, authenticity and authority we must be able to bring the good news and hope of resurrection to the world in ways that are vital and relevant today, such as the many faith communities that are out there marching in the streets with women and young people demanding change. 

     Our baptismal covenant with God calls for us to “seek and serve Christ in ALL PERSONS, loving our neighbors as ourselves…to strive for justice and peace among ALL PEOPLE, and respect the dignity of EVERY HUMAN BEING. To encounter all persons, all people, and every human being, we must move beyond ourselves. We must think beyond borders and divisions. We must be brave and bold enough to call for change that can affect the lives of generations to come.

     This is a movement, a movement of Christ’s life and love into all the world. This is about loving as Christ loved. It’s about respecting the dignity of others in such a way that our brothers and sisters of all faiths or no faith are freer, more able, safer to fully and proudly claim who they are because of our presence, not in spite of it.  Otherwise, we bear witness to a movement that is dying, not rising.

     This is how we show the world who we are. Our time has come. This is the moment we have been waiting for.

Our time has come to show the world a relentless love that knows no bounds. Our time has come to truly be true to a faith that is guided by love in community and one that inspires real hope for all people, especially the poorest and most at risk among us. Our time has come to become all that God desires us to be, so that people will not just watch, but will want to join the movement that seeks true freedom for all.