Happy Monday, Friends! I want to extend a special welcome to LOVEboldly’s new communications coordinator, Brandan Robertson, who begins working with us today. The First Testament lesson from this past Sunday came from Isaiah 42. I’d like to consider the first four verses: “Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my spirit upon them; she will bring forth justice to the nations. He will not cry out or lift up their voice or make it heard in the street; a bruised reed she will not break,and a dimly burning wick he will not quench; they will faithfully bring forth justice. She will not grow faint or be crusheduntil he has established justice in the earth, and the coastlands wait for their teaching,” (Isaiah 42: 1-4; NRSVue).
As some who feels called to cry and lift up his voice and “to make it heard in the street,” I was struck by this passage. Is God or the prophet Isaiah telling us that that we shouldn’t advocate boldly and passionately? If so, how do we realistically work for justice if we are not to break “a bruised reed” or quench “a dimly burning wick?” Now, I interpret this passage to be part of the larger theme of the suffering servant found in Isaiah where the “servant” is Jesus. However, we can also read this passage as addressing one of many ways to work for justice. Some of us are called to public advocacy and organizing while others are called to work behind the scenes supporting the people on the front lines while still others are called to write and create works of art which agitate for change.
I hope you already know the story of Bayard Rustin. Rustin was a Black, openly gay man who aligned himself with socialism, staunchly believed in the nonviolent tenets of his Quaker faith, and who pursued a life of social advocacy. Rustin introduced Martin Luther King, Jr., to the principles of nonviolence and was a driving force in the Civil Rights Movement. However, because he was both gay and an avowed socialist, his presence in the movement was often used by the FBI and other organizations to discredit Dr. King. To counteract those attempts, Rustin took a background role in the movement, focusing on organizing and galvanizing support among his friends and colleagues in the North. Despite that step back, he was the driving force behind the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963. Rustin was a leader who didn’t break a bruised reed and ignited, rather than quenched dimly burning wicks.
One of Rustin’s best-known quotes says, “We need in every community a group of angelic troublemakers.”
How do you work for justice? Are you an angelic troublemaker?
Let us pray: God, make us angelic troublemakers. People who confront injustice and defend the marginalized. Make us quiet advocates, passionate activists, eager writers, and passionate artists using our talents to collectively build up your kin-dom where hate and strife are unknown and oppression is but a memory. We ask this through Jesus Christ, Amen.
Blessings on your weeks, my friends! Please let me know if there is anything I can do.