The year 2018 is drawing to a close. But before it does, it is customary to look back and review the best it had to offer. Some of these “best” lists including: books, music, movies, and people. The Christian Century published a different kind of list, which did not include any best sellers or top newsmakers, or loudest voices, but they are the “Voices of 2018” which may have something important to say to Christians today, if we have ears to hear. Let’s listen to these voices:
“Someone who can give $100,000 to a campaign does not wake up every morning worrying about how to pay for dental care.” ~Zephyr Teachout on elections being dominated by big campaign contributions
“If you have church members that believe the way out of addiction is to pull yourself up by your bootstraps or just believe enough, then you’re never going to be able to solve the problem...But if you can get church leaders to begin to change the perception of these broken, fragile people who are in need of love and help and healing, it can have some significant impact.” ~Raymond Barfield of Duke Divinity School on the church’s role in overcoming the opioid addiction crisis
“This is the 22nd school shooting just this year. DO SOMETHING.” ~Jaclyn Corin, a student, writing after a shooting at Santa Fe High School outside Houston
“The fires now burn nearly all year round; there is no more ‘fire season’” ~Mat Homan, on perpetual forest fires in California
“It’s the hate in the business suit that is a greater danger to our country than the hate in a Klan robe.” ~Richard Cohen, president of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups
“Appeals to the white conscience have not worked, and there are no signs that they ever will. It is a strategy whose burial may be long overdue.” ~Mychal Denzel Smith, an African Amercian, on writing to largely white audiences
“You’ve been ensconced in a culture that has for too long protected you from the consequences of your worst instincts. The boundaries that once kept your culture safe from scrutiny have become as irrelevant today as the moats and walls of precious centuries. There is no hiding any longer.” ~An open letter from the National Catholic Reporter to the U.S. Catholic bishops about the child sex abuse scandal in the church
“Women don’t need to find a voice, they have a voice, they need to feel empowered to use it and people need to be encouraged to listen.” ~Actor Meghan Markle, who married Prince Henry in May
“We live in a scary country.” ~Heidy Marley Castro on why she and her two children joined the caravan walking fro Honduras and other Central American countries to the U.S. border
“We can be good people who care deeply about each other even when we disagree.” ~Kyrsten Sinema after being elected to the U.S. Senate from Arizona
In the midst of this cacophony of voices, who do we listen to?
In January, we will celebrate the baptism of Jesus, reading the story when John the Baptist (whose voice cried out from the margins, “Prepare the way of the Lord”) baptized Jesus, and at that moment, out of a cloud came the voice of God saying, “This is my beloved Son, listen to him.” Where is the voice of John the Baptist today? Where is the voice of God? Where is the voice of Jesus? The voice of Jesus can be heard in quiet prayer, in the Bible, and in the church, yes. But, the voice of Jesus can also be heard in margins, in all of these voices above, who may be the prophets of today, calling us, like Micah of long ago, to “do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God.”
It is a new year--2019! Let’s listen to the voices in the margins. Let’s listen to those people calling out to us Christians. And let’s not just listen to their voices, let’s hear their words. And let’s not just hear their words, let’s act on them. Let’s make 2019 the year that we Christians stand up for what we believe in and use our voices to change the world for good, for God, and for all of God’s beloved people.
New Year Blessings,