Advent 2018, Week 4: Incarnation (Love)
Written by Brittany Hughes
“Gestures in good faith do not end oppression; it is risk and ruthless radical love that will see us through.” – Aja Monet
In a season where we focus so heavily on waiting and anticipation I sometimes wonder what it must have been like to have lived in the time of Jesus’ birth. To be waiting for someone of prestige while our Savior was tucked away in a manger born to parents of modest means. To expect him to announce his arrival in a way that was big and visible while Jesus was welcomed by a handful of people, and a few animals, in one of the most unimpressive ways I can think of. Were they hoping for a King adorned in the finest of silks who lived in a palace when he was really in a stable surrounded by animal filth? Were they expecting Jesus to be someone who spent more time fighting for people than he did condemning them? If we are to model our lives after Jesus Christ, then a love-centric and sacrificial type of activism must be woven into the fabric of who we are and what we do. The hardest lesson I am learning in what it looks like to follow Jesus is that there can’t be any limits to who I show up for and how I show up for them. To borrow the words of Malcolm X we must be for truth no matter who tells it and justice no matter who it is for or against. Jesus worked on behalf of the woman at the well in John 4 in the same way that he showed up for the official and his dying son later in the chapter. He not only confronted but corrected his disciples with the same loving posture as he did his detractors. That same radical love that caused Jesus to treat friend and foe with the same dignity and respect is also what informed his work on the cross. While we were still distant from God, Jesus interceded on our behalf. He took on a burden that wasn’t his to bear because he loved us enough to set things right for us.
Practicing activism is laborious and tiring and sometimes requires that we put life and limb on the line. We do these things not because we want praise or because we crave attention and validation for our work but because we both love Christ and love people like Christ loved them. We love enough to stand in their place and endure the things that they cannot. Are we willing to risk life and limb for one another? Does the answer to this question change when we don’t necessarily like the person on whose behalf we are fighting? What does that say about who we deem worthy of being fought for? I hope that I’m showing up in spaces prepared to stand up for justice and truth whether is for or against those that I love and care for. I hope that I never forget what it meant for people to come alongside me and pick up the things that hindered me when I couldn’t. I hope that this is something I am daily doing for others.
I am convinced that our freedom is closely linked to our ability to not only love but to dream. The work of the activist and organizer reaches far beyond planning the next demonstration or making demands of our elected officials. At its core our work is centered on inviting folks to use their imagination to work towards a world that we cannot yet see. This work requires us to envision solutions to centuries-old problems. We must help enough people to share in our vision that the power we wield tears down old systems and resurrects new and more equitable ones. It requires us to choose to show up for our neighbor every day. This is not always because we want to but because we have a deep understanding of the fact that the dream of our liberation is linked to one another and that I’m not free until you are.
Throughout the Old Testament, stories of sinful and fallen people invite us to envision a time in which God would reconcile himself to us by way of a baby named Jesus. A descendant of said OT screw ups. Born in a manger to a virgin mother. In a time where a wealthy few consolidated power and couldn’t be bothered to think of the needs of society’s most impacted, Jesus asked us to imagine a world where they aren’t the last any more (Matt. 19:28-30). Even the creation story points us to a divine creativity in that all God had to do was imagine the world, speak it into existence, and it was so.
God, thank you that you invite us to imagine a world that does not yet exist. In this season of advent we can rest assured that we will some day see the vision of heaven become a reality. Thank you for your son Jesus and that he provided the blueprint for us to know what it looks like to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly (Micah 6:8). I pray we be people of action not people with timid spirits. That we won’t be content with the way things are now but that we will work to bring your kingdom to earth. Amen.
Songs: Made a Way- Travis Greene; Good Good Father - Tim Bowman Jr; Good to Me – J.J. Hairston & Youthful Praise
Recommended Passages: Revelation7:9-12; Isaiah 65:17-25
Brittany Hughes lives in Columbia, Missouri where she works as a regional organizer for Missouri Faith Voices. You can follow her on Twitter @b_hughes93.