Called to Action
Upending the Tables was the title of the third and final ‘All anew’ women’s Bible study held over the summer. Kelly Fryer wrote the three-part study that shared the theme of the 2017 Women of the ELCA Triennial Gathering in Minneapolis this summer.
On this particular day, our focusing questions of “What is our responsibility when the very systems that have been put in place to protect people and make sure justice is done become tools to oppress?” and “Do we just stand by and allow injustice to continue?” seemed really heavy in light of recent world events and the political climate that prevails. People have some very definitive responses, packed with passion and emotion, surrounding the state of our country, our world. The group of women who came out for the study was no different. And so I had the privilege of leading a diverse-thinking group of women through this study, guided by the Holy Spirit, and the wisdom of Scripture.
Kelly structured this study in four parts: Getting Real; Getting Renewed; Getting Riled Up; and Getting Released. Don’t those phrases alone stir the soul? And so we took a journey that began with the challenge Paul sets to us in Romans 13:
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God…
That’s hard to swallow, if you’re not in favor of decisions being made by government leaders, at any level. Yet Paul tells us all this to remind us that God is the authority over every authority, including government. In a perfect world the government would be “God’s servant for good”; not just today, but in the past and years to come. So we struggled with this idea because there are a lot of laws and policies in place that don’t seem to have “the least of these” in mind. Horrendous acts of violence are being played out all over the world. But we managed to respectfully share our thoughts, and realized that what each and every one of us does in this life matters. Every time we’re confronted by injustice we have a choice to either turn the other way and run or let God use us as a vehicle for making positive change, guided by Him. God calls us to action to help right the injustices that we see.
There are many wrongs to be righted; from the very towns we live in to the other side of the world. God’s world. As Kelly so well states it:
Our political and religious systems only exist by the authority given to them by God. They have been created to do good. We are bound by conscience to be engaged, to hold them accountable. That requires, in a phrase used by activists who are working to change this system, being ‘woke.’
It means answering the call we hear in Paul’s letter to the Romans to ‘wake from sleep,’ for the night is far gone and the day is near.
Do we dare?
God, help us hear your Word to us through the biblical story and through the words we speak to each other today. Give us wisdom to hear your call to be a part of what you are doing in this world as an overflowing gift of love and grace. Give us courage to answer that call with joy. Amen.