But our story began on the margins, with Jesus, who himself was “an outsider” who “sympathized with the disadvantaged and estranged" (John Driver, Radical Faith, pg 24). Howard Thurman, speaking within the black church context, says in Jesus and the Disinherited, “The basic fact is that Christianity as it was born in the mind of this Jewish teacher and thinker appears as a technique of survival for the oppressed.” This view is echoed everywhere Christians find themselves oppressed, impoverished, or on the margins. And it was equally true of the Anabaptists, forced to the margins by the violence of the state churches.
|Jesus Nailed to Cross, Martyr's Mirror|
For instance, who could better understand the power of Jesus nonviolent teaching on retaliation, ” turn the other cheek… do not retaliate revengefully by evil means… love your enemies” than the African Amercian churches who lived under oppressive racism and fought for justice through nonviolent direct action? Or who can rightly teach us to follow Jesus’ teachings “blessed are the poor… Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you” except the poor themselves; who live this ethic as a matter of survival and community rather than charity? Likewise, I’m learning from Houston’s immigrant community who have had their wages stolen the necessity and spirituality to “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” These are all passages from Matthew 5:38-44 that have been and are interpreted (and practiced!) radically different among those of us in Dominant majority culture (differently enough to make you ask, Is Jesus an idiot?).
Our Lenten journey probes these questions and invites us to embody the Jesus narrative to such a degree we too can say “yes” to God, regardless the consequences. So we invite you to explore Lent from the margins in a variety of ways: through worship, personal reflection and learning, and group events. It’s our deepest desire that in signing on to celebrate Lent from and with the margins, you’ll be more ready than ever to say 'Yes' to God in your life!