The Faith Leaders for Justice group met yesterday. It’s an informal gathering of local faith leaders from different Christian denominations and religions. Around lunch tables, our interfaith cohort strives to make relationships with one another across our differences and nurture them into friendship in hopes of working together in justice-seeking efforts in our community.
As we gathered in, I shared this excerpt from Faith-Rooted Organizing: Mobilizing the Church in Service to the World, by Alexia Salvatierra and Peter Heltzel: “A focus on common problems can be cathartic as well as bonding, helping people who have experienced the violation of invisibility to see and respect the importance of their own suffering and hence their own well-being. But it has been demonstrated that constant emphasis on remembering pain and agitating anger in community organizing wears people down physically. Counterbalancing pain and anger with faith and hope, prophetic imagination, inspiration and spiritual refreshment rejuvenates us as individuals and communities. Organizing around common dreams and visions refocuses our unity—long-oppressed and hopeless people are freed to be more positive and empowered, strengthened in faith and sustained for the struggle” (p. 38).
With that, we took a few minutes in silence to write responses to the prompt “God’s vision for our community is…” or “a holy vision for our community is…” The responses were not only inspiring, refreshing, and rejuvenating, as the authors of the book suggest; they said the same thing with different words:
…the vulnerable being recognized and included, so that their/our needs are prioritized and met with compassionate equity.
…open tables, dismantled walls, holy healing amid sacred discomfort, and a mutually shared responsibility to strive for the wholeness and belonging of creation.
…dreams realized beyond the limits of our individual perceptions. To limit your dream because of a self-perceived impossibility is a tragedy.
…souls are nourished, the hungry are fed, interactions are loving.
One of us simply said, “I cheated and found Luke 4,” and they read from that gospel, where Jesus stands in the synagogue and reads from Isaiah 61: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
From a Christian perspective, our shared vision was for heaven to be realized on earth right now through unified, collaborative efforts that leave no one out and that prioritize the well-being of the whole community. We left that meeting uplifted with a shared prophetic imagination to keep doing the work we are called to do as faith leaders.
But, as I mentioned in the sermon a couple of Sundays ago, you don’t have to be ordained to be called; nor do you have to be a faith leader to tap into prophetic imagination. So, I encourage you to take a few minutes in silent meditation today. Breathe deeply of the Spirit wherever you find yourself today, and center yourself in a moment of peace. Then, write down your own response to that prompt: “God’s vision for our community is…” or “a holy vision for our community is…” What you write that comes from the indwelling of God’s Spirit in your unmistakable life is your unique, necessary contribution to prophetic imagination. Prophetic imagination is the vision you and I and all of us need—together—to do the work set before us as God’s beloved who long to seek justice with and for one another.