05 October 2009

The Weak and the Lowly

By Sharon

Please join me in reading Psalm 85: 1-4
1God has taken his place in the divine council;
in the midst of the gods he holds judgment:
2"How long will you judge unjustly
and show partiality to the wicked? Selah
3Give justice to the weak and the orphan;
maintain the right of the lowly and the destitute.
4Rescue the weak and the needy;
deliver them from the hand of the wicked.

Usually I do not like to think of topics such as God’s judgment. When I hear the word ‘wicked’ I want to think that we all have tendencies towards wickedness and these type of Psalms help us to pray against that in us. The problem for my Presbyqueerian community is that we have painful baggage with the word ‘wicked’ and the church. When we feel falsely judged we want to lash out with words that condemn those who condemn us. I have done it plenty of times. But am I in a place to judge?

I live and work in a ghetto of Atlanta. It is the fall after I graduated from seminary, and I am trying to figure out how to live and be; how to lift up the lowly, to “give justice to the weak and the orphan; maintain the right of the lowly and destitute (v.3).” That is a pretty heavy calling for we who follow the Juedo-Christian tradition. Let us not forget the dark corners of the world besides the ones we kick it in. In my context, I feel that the weak and the orphan are the children who are abused and neglected in this forgotten section of Atlanta; the prostitutes who have gone to that ‘lowly’ of a profession out of necessity for survival. In my situation, it is so different from my seminary bubble. People do not fight about LGBT issues here. They just try to survive. It is nice, to be honest, to be out of those psychologically damaging circles that do or don’t stand up for justice for we who are called to ordained ministry but forced to do other jobs (like mine) when we get out of seminary.

Now I find myself laughing at gay jokes in the very poor African American community within which I live and work. Isn’t that crazy? I was an activist for us at seminary but now my focus is tutoring math in Atlanta Public Schools through Americorps. When a kid uses ‘gay’ as an adjective, it means weak. I can ask them what ‘gay’ means? Usually when I say there is nothing wrong with being gay, they don’t use the word anymore. Before, they were using it in a way that was hurtful but also getting a few laughs. I hope that as I serve the needy kids in this community that I can spread love to them and teach them about the love of God in what words they use for insults. Everybody in my school seems to need to be ‘hard’ and show no fear because that is the culture. But I know that many of us are weak because we cannot maintain this badass image after school. It is when we can be vulnerable with each other that we can bond; and there God’s grace meets us after a day of chaos in a school of critical need.

‘Gay’ used here is much less hurtful than ‘gay’ used in church circles. When, O God, will you bring justice to those who are hurt deeply by hateful words, by wicked words? When will you bring justice for those who are raising themselves in the sixth grade?

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