Current Worship Series – “Solidarity” 

Theme: Embodying a community of mutuality

We see in the Gospels that those who Jesus lived in close proximity to and in solidarity with were the people on the margins of society: the lame, the poor, the oppressed.  And yet those at the center of power were the ones who crucified Jesus: the elders, the chief priests, the teachers of the Law. Still today, we honor the people in these latter roles and shun the ones in the former.  The Hebrew word hesed means a love that is focused on the poor; but rooted in solidarity.  Solidarity is not about “I’m helping you,” it is a commitment to mutuality with the poor.  When the Bible is read through the eyes of solidarity—what we call the “preferential option for the poor” or the “bias from the margins”—it can be liberating, transformative, even empowering.  Let’s examine some of the writings of theologian Richard Rohr, as we seek to pursue our own encounters of solidarity with our neighbor.

 

August 8th – “A Long Way To Go” – Luke 5:12-14 – Theme: Having compassion for another person’s pain

Richard Rohr makes the claim that Christianity is still in its infancy, meaning that we are just beginning to take our first steps toward a more embodied faith that focuses on the poor.  Teachers like Francis of Assisi invite us into solidarity with the oppressed, but the more comfortable we are in our faith, the more difficult it becomes to make that move to the margins.  Yet drawing close to the margins is where Jesus compels us to go.  Solidarity is to have basic compassion for the poor instead of hardened hearts to the plights of others. We must soften our souls and experience basic sympathy, empathy, and recognition of another person’s pain, all in the pursuit of compassion.
 

August 15th – “Drop The Bootstrap Mentality” – James 1:19-21 – Theme: Appropriate anger in unjust situations

The all too familiar “Pull yourself up by your bootstraps” mentality can deprive us of the capacity to recognize systemic oppression.  From our position of privilege, it is almost impossible to see the many ways the system has helped us succeed.  It is through friendships with people of different backgrounds and life experiences that we gain awareness of marginalization. We see the many ways life is more difficult for others than it needs to be.  Solidarity is anger at the unjust situations that cause other’s poverty.  But while anger can be dangerous or destructive, it can also be an appropriate and useful response to injustice. The question we must ask ourselves is, “How can I be a life-giving presence with and for those who are most suffering?”
 

August 22nd – “Fully Human” – Luke 8:43-48 – Theme: Accepting others as fully human

Within our awakening to injustice, it is much easier to focus on the admirable qualities of the oppressed, especially the qualities that might be lacking in those within our own circles.  In our efforts to help others, we discover people who are happy, generous and grateful with what they have.  By contrast, we wrestle with feelings of entitlement and frustration whenever the littlest things go wrong.  Richard Rohr writes that although it may feel positive, if it is unjust to dehumanize others, it is equally unjust to “superhumanize” them, applauding someone’s ability to “do it all” instead of making sure they don’t have to.  The work of solidarity is to close the distance between our neighbor and us by joining and accepting others as fully human—in our struggles and our gifts alike. 
 

August 29th – “The Image of God” – John 4:7-14 – Theme: Sharing dialogue is essential to humanization

God’s intention is solidarity with, and universal responsibility for, the whole.  Living out the Gospel is a process of humanization, a movement toward greater freedom, dignity, inclusivity, and possibility.  Solidarity is a choice to walk with the poor and the oppressed, to be taught by them, and to love them as equals.  It is the discovery that each one of us bears the divine spirit of the Lord dwelling within us.  Open and honest dialogue with the poor allows us to find within ourselves, and in the other, the true “image of God” in which we were created and connected. This dialogue is a way that we can begin to recognize each other in our full humanity, as we both learn and teach in this active encounter of faith and love.
 

September 5th – “Parables Of The Poor” – Matthew 21:33-41 – Theme: Embodying a community of mutuality

Few would disagree that the Kingdom of God is central to the teachings of Jesus. However, many understand this kingdom as otherworldly and immaterial. But if we look at Jesus’ parables through the lens of the poor, we can see that God’s kingdom is a real, material order, with a moral agenda different from and opposed to the reigning order of the day.  These stories paint a picture in which the poor and marginalized are lifted up and their needs are met, rather than being despised or ignored by those in control.  We too are being asked by Christ to embody a community of mutuality and solidarity.