Church friends and I were discussing how our congregations grapple with uncomfortable issues and it was generally said that many of our people are tired of talking about difficult things. Generally speaking:
- White people are tired of talking about white privilege.
- Prosperous people are tired of talking about poor people.
- People with safe homes and good health care are tired of talking about people who are homeless and sick.
I can almost hear the comments . . . “It’s all I can do to get my laundry done.” “I don’t have the energy to take on someone else’s issues.”
It’s tempting to ignore the worries of the world because other people’s problems are not our problems. We can just walk away. Specifically . . .
- White people can walk away from grappling with white privilege but People of Color can’t. I’m sure that People of Color are tired of dealing with it every day but they have no choice.
- Wealthy people can walk away from grappling with systemic poverty but the poor can’t. I’m certain that the poor are tired of being poor and they can’t walk away from their poverty as much as they’d like to do that.
- Those who have safe shelter and good health care can walk away from grappling with issues like substandard housing and poor healthcare. But those living under bridges or in squalor without an insurance card can’t walk away from their situations.
The whole point of the birth of Jesus – God Incarnate – is that God doesn’t walk away. God entered this world as a poor infant. Jesus was literally in the same boat with people during a heavy storm.
(We tend to empathize with our neighbors when we are all in the same boat.)
It’s Advent season when we are waiting for relief and light. And we are missing the point if we forget that – actually – we have been called to offer relief and light to other people in Jesus’ name. We have been called to be with those who face daily racism because of the color of their skin. We are called to be with those who are blamed for their own poverty. We are called to be with those who are ignored in the stresses of their everyday living conditions.
We can’t walk away from The Least of These. At least we can’t walk away if we hope to emulate Jesus.
And if we are tired of talking about racism or poverty or injustice, imagine how tired people must be who deal with racism or poverty or injustice every day.
How to start? Stop talking about uncomfortable things and listen. Listen to people whose skin is not white. Listen to the poor. Have a conversation with someone who needs housing or healthcare. Note: we can’t listen to the stories if we don’t know any People of Color or any poor people or any homeless people or any untreated sick people.
Are we actually too tired to pay attention to our neighbors? Advent is a good time to wake up and pay attention.
Image source unknown but I call it, “I’m Tired of Talking About White Privilege.”