Thursday, November 3, 2011

Time for the Church to Occupy!

Part of an interfaith service at Occupy San Francisco.

As I write this I am recovering from a viral inner ear infection called labrynthitis and sitting in my house with heat, electricity and cable.  When I got sick I called my primary care physician and got in the next day.  I received prescriptions from him and went to a local pharmacy and got them filled.  My insurance paid all but $8 of the bill. I have an amazing job I love that provides me with insurance and payments into my pension account.   My home is not luxurious but is quite adequate for my family.  I have money in my bank account and get to do things with my family that are fun and interesting.  My child goes to a safe and excellent school.  My extended family is relatively healthy and most have good jobs and stable families.  I am lucky. 

I know this intuitively but often get caught up in the issues of my days and weeks and forget.  I know this but sometimes I – probably like many of you – need a reminder.  A transformer blew outside my house yesterday morning and I was without electricity for all of 2 hours.  It was inconvenient but my house was warm and I had things to do to occupy my time.  I have friends in areas affected by the recent storms that are on day 5 without power.  I am lucky.  I know this.

As I write this Occupy Wall Street protesters are sitting in the cold and enduring the elements to protest an immoral, greedy, and unjust economic system that keeps the poor in poverty and protects the rich.  Members of the global community have been rebelling over the last few months in a number of ways.  The Arab Spring has removed dictators from several countries’ leadership and brought new levels of freedom to peoples of the world.  Women in countries where they have limited rights are crying out for education, driving privileges, and voting rights.  Seeking a better world and gratitude for these changes is everywhere – it seems.
Occupy movements are springing up all over the world.  Many are collecting donations of food and are feeding not only those in the movement but the homeless in their areas as well.  This kind of egalitarian and compassionate living is not just being protested for – it is being lived out by their actions.  They are doing what many of us would like to do – but we feel compelled to stay in our own cocoons of safety or are too scared to be part of it or we don’t know how to be part of it all.  Sometimes their purpose seems scattered and I wonder how their efforts may actually create change – but I am grateful they are there.  And I too am figuring out how I can be part of it.
Where is the church in all of this?  I think we ought to be right in the middle of these movements.  I know of clergy groups walking with Occupy across the country.  Ministers are offering pastoral care and Eucharist to those who wish.  Many churches have
Marilyn Sewell, in a recent article on Huffington Post, said, “The church's proper role is to stand on the side of the disenfranchised and to call out wrongdoing and injustice in our society. Jesus did not say," I have come that you might be comfortable." He said, "I have come that you might have life." OccupyWallStreet has given the church an opening, a decisive moment in history. The Holy Spirit is not on the side of safety and stability. When will the church find its prophetic voice?
It’s time to occupy a sense of thankfulness for all that has and is changing.  It’s time to occupy and take advantage of our opportunity to speak out against injustice, greed and immortality.  It’s time for the church to speak prophetically.  We sit too safely in the cocoons of our worship spaces – we need to meet the people in our communities where they are, we need to stand for something, we need to cry out against violence and abuse, and we need to be the church reaching out to the world.  We need to occupy the places where marginalization is happening and to close those gaps.  This is the time and the church is able.
We are fortunate, many of us, so we should be grateful and honor where we are in life.  And that allows us to speak – we have to utilize that right and responsibility. 
It’s time – let’s occupy.

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