On Injustice, Advent, and Jubilee

by Beth A Richardson on December 8, 2014 · 6 comments


I was standing on the street visiting with an African-American friend when a car containing mutual acquaintances pulled up about ten feet from us. The folks in the car motioned for me to walk over to their window to talk with them. I won’t go into the details of what happened, but when they drove away without acknowledging the presence of my friend on the sidewalk, I realized that I had been given the gift of glimpsing the racism that he sees, experiences, and lives every day. In those awkward moments after they drove away, we stood in silence. I finally said, “Well, that was rude.” And then I had a further gift. The barrier was breached, and we were able to talk for just a few minutes about his experiences of being a person who is treated differently from me because of the color of his skin.

In this world, in this time, when there is so much hurt, so much injustice, so much anger and despair, I still live in a place of privilege, protected from the small and large slights, injustices, and downright dangers of looking different, of being at the wrong place at the wrong time.

Jesus came to bring release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind. That’s the message of Jubilee, the message of Advent — and I’m mostly on the privileged side of that equation. Most of the time, I’m the free one rather than the captive. Most of the time, I don’t see the daily injustices of racism and classism that oppress persons of color or those who live below the poverty line. It’s uncomfortable, but not as uncomfortable as the fear of a mother who, when her black son leaves the house, prays that he will come home again safely. It’s not as uncomfortable as a community who feels threatened by the very system created to protect it.

I pray for wisdom to know how to be a Christ-follower today — in this place and in this time. To live faithfully and with courage. To be God’s heart and hands in the world. To have the opportunity to speak truth, to acknowledge that things are not right. To be part of the solution rather than part of the problem. I want to make a difference in this hurting world. And I wonder, how can we be prophets, healers, followers of Christ when a world of hurt, injustice, and anger is boiling over.

Break into this world, God of Light.
Open our shuttered eyes, shuttered life, to the stories of injustice.
Open our locked-up hearts to your spirit of love and compassion.
Give us courage to speak truth to injustice.
Guide us as we seek to be bearers of hope in places where there is no hope,
Bringers of comfort where there is despair,
Sources of courage where there is only fear.
Come quickly, Emmanuel.

Share with me your hopes and dreams, your thoughts and actions.

Karrie December 8, 2014 at 8:10 pm

Dear Beth,

Than you for the prayer. It says so well what I wish for myself and for the world. I will be using it for my morning time of quiet.

May we all know what to do to make things better. For others. And for ourselves, too. A world of injustice is sad for everyone.

Jill December 9, 2014 at 3:35 am

Beth – thank you for the thoughtful and thought-provoking piece. As an educator at an inner-city school – issues of race are prevalent. I try to self-monitor very closely – my thoughts and my actions – and to be aware of any possibility of evidence of racism. I am often befuddled by apathy – and upon reflection – realize that I have failed to act compassionately as Christ modeled for me. Father – show me how to be an encourager of the driven and the reluctant. Help me to love them all equally and consistently – as You love them.

Donell Seager December 9, 2014 at 9:23 am

This prayer, one written for the noon sacred pause by Macrina Wiederkehr in her book Seven Sacred Pauses, immediately bubbled up, and is one I am praying I can live into. I share it with you because it is also my prayer that all God’s children can live into. Isn’t this what Advent and the Incarnation are all about ~ hope that we will grow into who God designed is to be?!

Here’s the prayer, entitled The Truth:

I will believe the truth about myself
no matter how beautiful it is:

I believe in my power
to transform indifference into live.
I believe I have an amazing gift
to keep hope alive in the face of despair.
I believe I have the remarkable skill
of deleting bitterness from my life.
I believe in my budding potential
to live with a nonviolent heart.
I believe in my passion to speak the truth
even when it isn’t popular.
I believe I have the strength of will
to be peace in a world of violence.
I believe in my miraculous capacity
for unconditional love.

I will believe the truth about myself
no matter how beautiful it is.

ViannaR December 28, 2014 at 6:38 pm

I would have benefited from this author sharing how she knew for certain that the friends who drove up were being racist. Please be careful when assessing a situation that you don’t break the ninth commandment.

Beth Richardson January 5, 2015 at 9:13 am

Thank you, ViannaR. Yes, I was not able to give more specifics to the story because, since I knew both parties, I didn’t feel comfortable sharing identifiable details. I think that most persons would have recognized the racism had they been present there on the sidewalk. Thank you for taking the time to reply.


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