Proximity with the Marginalized

Originally posted on tvprays.org

A Rewriting of Psalm 113:

Praise the Lord!

You who try to faithfully serve the Lord; praise the name of the Lord. Praise Immanuel, Prince of Peace, Holy Spirit, Redeemer, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Savior, Healer, Giver of Life.

Blessed be the name of the Lord from this pandemic time when we have kernels of hope, from this time when some of us are still so busy and the pace of life has slowed for others, when we feel isolated but see the path towards ending isolation.

Bless the name of the Lord from this time and into the future that we sometimes fear, sometimes dream about, the future we can really only imagine.

From that time when the sun rises over the fields and fills the earth with light to the sun’s setting over cities and towns. The name of the Lord is to be praised.

Who is like the Lord our God? Do I sometimes try to make myself a God? Do others? No one is like God.

God raises up the veteran with PTSD, the addict, the immigrant, the woman with the eating disorder, and the single mom experiencing homelessness. God lifts up the single dad who lost his job, the person living with depression, and the person who escaped an abusive relationship.

God makes all of these beloveds sit with the top one percent. 

God gives those who have started life with every disadvantage a sense of belonging, real worth, and a home in which to live.

This Wednesday our Midweek Lenten Worship service theme is created for community with those on the margins. We remember that Jesus himself was in community with the lepers, tax collectors, unclean, and demon possessed. He died between two thieves. In Exodus 22:21-22 we hear God’s command to “not wrong or oppress a resident alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt. You shall not abuse any widow or orphan.” We are called to be in community with those on the margins because that is the example set by and commanded by God. It is a puzzle to me sometimes, this being in community with those on the margins, because there are times in my life when I felt like that is where I was. And yet I know I possess a great deal of power, that my life’s story usually takes up the center of the page in our society. And yet remembering those few times when I felt marginalized, when I was yelled at for being a woman pastor or when the pharmacist argued with me about my epilepsy meds (meds I never could have afforded without insurance) and I thought I would never get my driver’s license back, helps me be in community with those on the margins of society. 

Author and Equal Justice Initiative founder Bryan Stevenson advocates for gaining proximity with those on the margins, not so we tokenize them and say, “See, I have a friend who is experiencing homelessness,” but so that we understand another person’s circumstances, challenges, and life better. In Just Mercy, Stevenson writes, “Proximity has taught me some basic and humbling truths, including this vital lesson: Each of us is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done. My work with the poor and the incarcerated has persuaded me that the oppositive of poverty is not wealth. The opposite of poverty is justice. Finally, I’ve come to believe that the true measure of our commitment to justice, the character of our society, our commitment to the rule of law, fairness, and equality cannot be measured by how we treat the rich, the powerful, the privileged, and the respected among us. The true measure of our character is how we treat the poor, the disfavored, the accused, the incarcerated, and the condemned.”

This entry was posted in Reflections. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Proximity with the Marginalized

  1. Linda McQueen says:

    Thank you again for a clear and needed message.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.