“Sleeper, awake! Rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians 5:14
“Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.” The Gospel of Matthew 25:13
“Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme” is a beautiful German hymn with lyrics based on the parable of the Ten Bridesmaids in Matthew 25. If only they had all stayed awake.
Waking up is one of the core themes of the Christian season of Advent. Wake up! Jesus is coming and we need to prepare. Wake up! We are called to do the work of Jesus: bringing good news to the poor, releasing those who are held captive, helping the blind see, and freeing those who are oppressed. (Note: If this is a political statement for you, note that Jesus said it first.)
The Church of Jesus Christ is called to be where “the woke” go to live and I’m not just talking about a physical place. I’m talking about a spiritual place.
Where do we live spiritually? In a hellhole of pessimism marked by hopelessness and utter darkness? In a perennially anxious state marked by constant handwringing over world circumstances? In a blindly naive land of privilege where God is good (to me) and all is well (with my world)? In the already/not yet reign of God?
One political figure has said repeatedly that his state is “where woke goes to die.” He is referring to the political usurping of the term “woke” meaning those embracing “Critical Race Theory.” I invite all who oppose “Critical Race Theory” to read The 1619 Project or What Kind of Christianity or The New Jim Crow or Tacit Racism or The Color of Mind or Waking Up White. These books were all written by historians or educators who have deeply researched and pondered issues of race in the United States of America. If you believe these books are wrongheaded, reading them will not sway your thinking. Go for it.
Jesus calls us to wake up from all that keeps us poor in spirit, enslaved by toxic systems, blind to the Truth, and oppressed by our own or other’s chains. Wake. Up. We are also called to wake up from those things we are and do that perpetuate oppression.
It’s in the Bible, Christians.
Imagine a Church of Jesus Christ where the woke live. It’s a place and a faith space where the world looks a little more like heaven on earth. It’s a place where the poor are seen and the mocked are loved and those held captive by cruel systems are freed and Jesus reigns. It’s good to be “woke.”
As a person of faith in Jesus Christ, I am not afraid of flag-burnings or even Bible burnings. I’m not afraid of looking at the painful stories of our nation’s history. I’m not afraid to look at my own family’s history of slave ownership or possible lynching participation. God calls us to lament and repent. And so that’s what I’m committed to do.
Wake up. Jesus is returning. Will we continue to celebrate blindness and oppression?
Image is sunrise over Jerusalem.
Ah! Jan! Once gain you expressed what some presbytery COM’s warn supply preachers about preaching.
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Thank you for this, Jan. As always, spot on. I always look forward to your posts!
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