Happy Monday and Happy Advent, friends! This week we continue and complete following Bishop Gene Robinson’s seven points that he has drawn from his over 50 years in ministry. In his seventh point he says: “…in 2023, it is suddenly and sadly in vogue to belittle people for being woke. Before it was vilified as woke, it was dismissed as merely political correctness. But before that, it was called the gospel.” “Woke” is an interesting word and “being woke” is an interesting concept. When “woke” began to be used in social justice circles as a point of pride, I thought it referred to a sort of enlightenment like when people asked the Buddha who he was and he responded, “I am awake.” While that association holds, it in fact has a longer usage in African American culture to mean an alert to racial discrimination. Based on the use of “woke” among members of the Black Lives Matter movement and subsequently by LGBTQIA+ people it became a buzzword in conservative circles to refer to anything deemed too liberal. For my part, I struggle with the term in the same way I struggle with calling myself an ally. While I’m happy to claim “woke” as a badge of honor, can I really be woke? Do I understand my blind spots and my inherent biases well enough to be awake to all the forms of racism, ablism, heterosexism, transphobia, etc. in the world around me?
If being “woke” means to transgress and argue against the prevailing political and social realities of one’s time, then Jesus was extremely woke which is what makes woke the Gospel. We need to stop thinking of a Jesus who comes to save as if he ventures into our lives and into our contexts. A compelling statement says that Jesus found us and moved into our neighborhood. No, Jesus knows us and speaks truth to power from among us because he knows how humans think and act from being one of us. This is one of the radical parts about Christianity: not only does our God die an actual death, he lives an actual human life. Rather than the white savior portrayed in churches around the world, Jesus is a brown-skinned, Palestinian, refugee, migrant who because he’s also God he knows not just the struggle of Brown people, Palestinians, refugees, or migrants, but the struggles of all people.
Are you woke? Who might call you woke?
Let us pray: Hey God, it’s us. If you came to earth today would politicians and traditionalists call you woke? Would they deny that you are God because of what you preach and the people you accept? If the God of all creation was deemed to be woke, would woke be a bad thing or would people refuse to acknowledge you as God? We struggle, God, to reconcile how our faith compels us to action for the marginalized and the oppressed when other Christians use our shared faith to promote evil and exclusion. Grant us grace to not just be woke or politically correct, but to be the Gospel in the world through our lives, actions, and words. May we be a people of peace, making good trouble. Amen.
Blessings on your weeks, my friends! Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you.