By Rev. Juan Ángel Gutiérrez Rodríguez
It does not matter who wins or loses. Our call and our ministry cannot change. For such a time as this, we have been call to proclaim the good news of the gospel. For such a time as this, we have been call to work for peace and justice. For such a time as this, we have been call to stand and fight alongside the poor, the excluded, the widows, the orphans, the immigrant, an all that are victims of sexism, homophobia, racism and xenophobia. For such a time like this, we have been called to be witnesses of God’s love, peace, justice and liberation.
It does not matter who wins or loses. We can go on with our ministry because we have the hope of the Apostle Paul in Romans:
“31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
It does not matter who wins or loses. We can go on with our ministry, because we have the certainty of Paul’s words to Timothy “7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”
It does not matter who wins or loses. We can go on with our ministry because we have the faith of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. “Well, I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn't matter with me now, because I've been to the mountaintop. And I don't mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!”.
When I started to think about writing this reflection, the last sermon of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. came to my mind. In 1968, while in Memphis to support a workers’ strike, he spoke to a crowd about living in a such a time like this.
He told the crowd on the evening of April 3: what if God asked him which age he would like to live in? He went over the most important times in human history, but King said that he “would turn to the Almighty, and say ‘if you allow me to live just a few years in the second half of the twentieth century i would be happy.” He continued and said “now that’s a strange statement to make, because the world is all messed up. The nation is sick. Trouble is in the land. Confusion all around.” To that King answers, “but I know, somehow, that only when it is dark enough, can you see the stars.”
King is right. The present moment is always is the best time to be alive. It is in the difficult moments that we can experience God’s strength. It is in times of confusion that we can discern God’s wisdom. It is in the midst of violence that we can express God’s love and forgiveness. It is in the midst of sorrow that we can experience God’s hope and promises.
King is right, the present moment is always the best time to be alive. It is always the best time to be part of God’s project. It is always the best time to be faithful to God’s call for justice, liberation and inclusion. Because it is in the dark times that we can see the stars.
As in Esther’s time, we are challenged to live in hope and faith, but also in action. This is the time of resistance to the kings (the names change over time, but they always represent the oppressive system): racism, sexism, poverty, militarism, oppression. In these times, we are called to a life of resistance to those powers that are contrary to God’s project of life, justice, and peace.
We are called to resist like Vashti, who resisted an oppressive call from the king with an act of civil disobedience. Yes, in a such a time as this, we need to be brave enough (as ministers, churches, and denominations) to disobey the powers even if it means we lose our privileges and are forgotten.
We are called to resist like Mordecai, who responded to a deathly situation with an act of nonviolent action. Mordecai responded with a public demonstration of concern, sadness, repentance, and denunciation. He went to the main gate and stood there, not as a victim, but a sign of defiance.
We are call to resist like Esther, who responded to the call for help with an act of self-sacrifice. Yes, this is the time of self-sacrifice. This is the time to walk the talk. We have been living in comfort for too long. We have been part of the system for too long. This is the time to make a decision on which side we are: on the side of God, taking an option for the poor and the oppressed, or on the side of the king (does not matter his or her name).
I would like to leave with you Dr. King challenging’s words: “Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.”
I would like to end with Dr. King’s words of hope: “The moral arc of the universe bends at the elbow of justice.”
For just such a time as this, where are you?