rising up from below

kathyescobar church stuff, dreams, equality, incarnational, injustice, synchroblog 43 Comments

young green plant in soil* this post is part of the november synchroblog, different bloggers writing on the same subject.  richard rohr says “the role of the prophets is to call us out of numbness.”  right now there’s a strong sense of change brewing in the church, the world; people are rising up and calling individuals, communities, nations, and everything in between out of numbness and toward justice, mercy, equality, and love.  bloggers this month are writing on where we are being stirred and challenged by prophetic voices.  check out the links at the end of this post.


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“wake up, wake up, o zion!

clothe yourself with strength.

put on your beautiful clothes, o holy city of jerusalem..

rise from the dust…

sit in a place of honor.

remove the chains of slavery from your neck, o captive daughter of zion.”

isaiah 52:1-2

this scripture came to mind two weekends ago during our walking wounded gathering as i listened to two amazing women briefly sharing their painful church story of being silenced and unvalued in the church because they are female.  honestly, in those moments, my heart physically hurts.  i see their beauty, their power, their wisdom and wonder how in the $*!^$&^#%$ the church, the place that’s supposed to be Christ’s bride and a reflection of his image, could silence half its members so overtly (and somehow get away with it!).

the reality is that many other voices have been silenced by the church, far beyond only women.  and because of this lack of voices, we have all suffered.  we have missed the voices of the poor, the oppressed, the brown, the gay, the divorced, the orphaned, the young, the uneducated, the theologically incorrect, the tromped on, the forgotten.  we have given our microphones and our pulpits and our programs over to the strong and the powerful and created a system where those on the margins are ignored and dismissed.

but something’s breaking out right now that can’t be squelched.  we see it in the town squares that are filled with average people who are protesting wall street & starting to say “we’re tired of the powerful and greedy controlling our world, something’s got to change.”  we see it in the mass exodus young people are making out of the church because it refuses to focus on issues they care about related to justice & mercy & equality.  we see it in the long line of former-church-people who have deconstructed their faith & are finding something more real because they could no longer tolerate the deep inconsistencies between faith & practice. we see it in the groundswell of advocacy & support for equality and dignity for all regardless of sexual orientation.

in all kinds of places we are seeing it–a movement from below.  a groundswell from the bottom.  an uprising where little pockets of people are saying “we’re not going to do this anymore…..we’re tired of people’s dignity being stripped…it’s time for change.” 

on the whole, the tops of systems aren’t changing.  the hierarchy remains.  the powerful and strong keep making rules & laws & policies & money.  many are hunkering down, hoping they can weather this storm and eventually the unruly sheep will get back in line and start towing the line once again.

but it’s not going to happen.  the sheep are getting tired of being jacked around by oppressive shepherds who don’t care about their well-being.  who put their own self-interest above the common good.  who allow others to be mistreated.  who put chains around others necks instead of setting people free.

the sheep are rising up.

yeah, we’re rising up.   not to rise up and away from problems and pain, but rather to have courage and strength to enter into it.  all over the place, God is calling people to freedom, to living out the gospel instead of talking about it, to practice instead of theory.   i call it a “holy stirring” and i think we will see it get stronger & wider & deeper over the upcoming years.

so many people i know are refusing to be part of oppressive systems anymore.  they are finding their way outside of the traditional confines of religion & meeting God in unlikely places.  they are renewing their passions and serving in all kinds of wild and beautiful ways that is viewed by the establishment as subversive even though it’s the closest thing to the gospel i’ve ever seen.  artists are creating.  silenced voices are speaking.  young people are voting with their feet.  chains are breaking.  dignity is being slowly & painfully being restored in little pockets of love & freedom that are often unseen & unnoticed by the masses.

but it’s happening.

the prophets are emerging from below, from underneath, from unlikely places.

God is calling people out of numbness and complacency.  and just like our hands feel when we warm them up after they freeze in the snow, it’s going to hurt.  like really hurt.  unfreezing our hearts, hands, feet, mouths, and brains is going to hurt as we thaw out and find our true identity created in the image of God.  parts of us are going to come alive that were once left for dead.  we’re going to have to use muscles that have atrophied.  we’re going to feel things we haven’t felt before.  we’re going to be more vulnerable and unprotected.  we’re going to doubt our voices.  we’re going to hear the critics tell us that we’re stupid & disgruntled & should quit complaining.  we’re going to doubt ourselves and wonder if maybe “going back to egypt” will make it feel better.

some will go back to their “proper place” and feel safe again.

but far more others are going to keep waking up, rising up, and breaking free from the chains that once kept us captive.  we are going to keep being set free and help others be set free, too.   we are going to care about the things that Jesus cares about like justice & mercy & compassion & peace & hope & restoration.  we are going to band together with others from below & form little armies of change that will shift laws & topple kingdoms & break down all kinds of walls that keep people stuck. 

there’s a rising up from below, calling us out of numbness.  calling us to freedom. calling us to justice.  calling us to mercy.  calling us to love.

God, keep thawing us out. we know it’s time. 

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ps:  i have a post up today at shelovesmagazine as part of a monthly column called sheloves God. this one is called leaving the ninety-nine for the one & is adapted from the chapter in down we go called extending love, mercy and compassion. sheloves is a prophetic voice calling us out of numbness in all kinds of ways.

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check out other bloggers writing about the prophets this month (i’ll add more links as they come in tonight):