This week, I preached on tithing and the solidarity with the oppressed that we find on the cross. I spoke for quite a while, trying to cover all the nuances I could, yet there is always more to say. The responses from you all were encouraging. Most of you were glad that I talked about tithing without leaving you feeling guilty by the end. I appreciated that feedback because I spent a lot of time intentionally making sure that was not the message I gave. Some of you also shared your experiences with tithing in other ways– getting gas for a friend or family member who needed it, giving cash to folks on the street corner, or covering a meal for someone you know or don’t know. I want to acknowledge that “tithing” too, because you are all right. We can give our resources over to the kindom of God in so many important ways, and all are valid.
I went into it briefly in my sermon, but I want to take more time here to discuss that “solidarity” piece. I view Christ as the one who shows us how to fight against the world’s injustices and how sometimes all we can do is lose. Our losses are not meaningless. If they were, we would not remember Christ’s death at the hands of the Roman Empire. We find liberation in our solidarity with those who are hurting. It is almost always a losing battle because we are so much smaller than the power that be. As my professor, Rev. Dr. De La Torre, says, “I feel hopeless.” To fight so hard for someone and know your chances are small is tiresome work. But if we do nothing, we are not being responsible to our faithful witness of Christ. Christ is not the victor in the story the Romans tell. We may not be victorious in our own fights for justice, whatever they may be. If we do nothing, then their story will be accurate. If we do something and lose, at least we, the folks we fight beside, will know that someone witnessed their pain and did not look away when it mattered the most.
Despite the hopelessness that comes from working for justice, I find a lot of hope in what we can do. The ways that we can make a difference, even if it is small, in the life of another being. Some of us tithe, some of us give to those in need, others share resources directly. As children of God and as followers of Christ who stand in solidarity with the oppressed, we must find our way of doing solidarity that not only gives life to others, but is faithful to God.
I find hope in my church. I find hope in my work. I find hope in the small ways I can share moments of joy with others. That hope fills me, and that hope reminds me that even when all may feel hopeless, it is still a work that Christ calls me to.