As people of faith, we interpret the world through a particular theological lens. Amidst the U.S. government’s plan to change the food stamp qualifications, which will leave over 700,000 people without the ability to receive food, hear these words from the prophet Amos:
Therefore because you trample on the poor
and take from them levies of grain,
you have built houses of hewn stone,
but you shall not live in them;
you have planted pleasant vineyards,
but you shall not drink their wine. (Amos 5:11 NRSV)
While the occupant of the White House continues to profit off of the presidency, many enter this holy season of Advent with fear. Where will their next meal come from? How can they work when the government places them in a state of fear? Women find their stories and bodies disrespected, the queer community is underhandedly dealt secret setbacks by some republican law makers across the country, people of color continue to be targeted by white nationalists who have been emboldened by Trump’s lack of care for human decency and lack of acknowledgement of our inherently unequal prison system. Children are dying of the Flu in U.S. concentration camps along the southern border while doctors offering free vaccines were denied entry.
And now, as we approach one of the holiest times of year for Christians, a time when generosity, peace, and goodwill ought to radiate from the silent nights of manger scenes; now the U.S. government decides to change its regulations for food stamps and not allow states the freedom to waive a requirement that able-bodied adults work a minimum of 20 hours/week to remain on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps). Surely this is not the “blessed are the poor” message which Jesus, who was birthed in a feeding trough to parents who would become political refugees in Egypt, came to proclaim.
So what can we do?
As people of faith, we interpret the world around us through a particular theological lens. Apply your faith to the world. We cannot allow the fundamentalist Christian voices to be the only “Christian” opinion. We are called to speak boldly and to prophesy against injustices such as this. We are called to call out tyranny, to name the harm being done by our own religious and political institutions against the poor and the intentionally dispossessed. We are called to be prophets–if not in front of a crowd then at least to our neighbors.
Prophecy isn’t only a megaphone, it’s also a conversation over coffee, a breaking down of perceived barriers–it’s an invitation into a vision of a better world.
So, in this Advent of 2019, I repeat and interpret the words of Amos from the 8th century B.C.E. Therefore, because we trample on the poor and take from them, we have built corporations of massive wealth, and have a global economy which supplies our supermarkets with piles of food, but this abundance is not shared…
May we be justice-seeking prophets this Advent so that we might one day enjoy the silent night of peace… together.