If you never heard the Rev. William J. Barber II preach, you have not heard a more passionate advocate for the poor and oppressed in our own time.
I attended our denomination’s General Assembly a few weeks ago in Indianapolis and, after hearing the Rev. Barber preach, and others after him, I came home feeling more hope, not just for our church, but for the Church. Things are about to change.
We like to think we are stone fortresses of our own truths, battling against the rest of the world – those not in our hallowed halls and protected by our paper walls. We read the Scriptures (albeit differing only in translation) and interpret those written words so we can face the next few days ahead. Within our sanctuaries we praise God, shout for joy, and desire to be lifted up. A means to our own ends. We have become the Pharisees watching the Spirit move in on our turf, hushing the crowds (Luke 19:28-40); especially when the Spirit confronts our sacred thoughts, doctrines, traditions, and theologies. The Advocate is at work and it will not be silenced!
The stones shout as churches who lost their way in speaking to the moral and justice truths Jesus preached, begin to shift from self to other. It’s coming with a roar. The universal struggle between the Law and Faith still remains the primary source of our divisions. Jesus came to fulfill the Law, not enforce it, and in so doing died at the hands who placed Moses before Savior, State before the Kingdom of God.
Jesus’ ministry revealed to us a moral outcry against those who systemically oppress and imprison those deemed unworthy, unclean, abominations, and unrighteous. Today, the Spirit speaks and advocates for justice, kindness, and mercy (Micah 6:8); to bring good news to the poor (Luke 4:16); to confront all forms of evil in our world (Ephesians 6:12).
We have a choice in whether or not we heed to the authority of Pharisees who say, “Hush now, you are crossing the line;” or join the crowd that proclaims, “Hosanna in the highest, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
We like to think we would be shouting, but far too often, we are silenced or choose to remain silent. God will act with or without us to move forward God’s agenda. I just pray, when the crowds disappear we don’t just wait until the innocent are crucified to get the point.