“Almighty and most merciful God, we remember before you all poor and neglected persons whom it would be easy for us to forget: the homeless and the destitute, the old and the sick, and all who have none to care for them. Help us to heal those who are broken in body and spirit, and to turn their sorrow into joy. Grant this, Father, for the love of your Son, who for our sake became poor, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.” -The Book of Common Prayer
Here are reflections on three encounters I had yesterday in my community. To be sure, there were other more encouraging encounters as well, but these are common enough. Perhaps they are in your community as well.
A middle class wage earner with a safe job is upset that some working poor can claim income tax credits that not only eliminate their federal income tax obligations but provide a refund as well. That they are poor, working, paying a host of other state and local taxes as well as FICA, and that this refund might make the difference between just being poor and absolute destitution does not seem to enter into the conversation.
A local convenience store clerk, himself among the working poor, has Mike Savage turned up so loud on the store radio that everyone can hear him. He thinks this extreme bigot, who deliberately incites as much internecine hatred as possible, is very intelligent, someone who really knows what’s going on and is telling the truth about America. Now he knows who to blame for this poverty, and it includes the Asians who own the store he works in.
Local conventional wisdom believes the stimulus package is only and nothing but pork-laden earmarks. The economy could be fixed just by getting rid of all that pork. But the news that stimulus funds will help rebuild some local infrastructure, a VA facility and solve some long standing pollution issues has been greeted with joy as receiving, at long last, what we have always deserved.
Any argument to the contrary is certain to be rejected as nothing but more of that vast left-wing conspiracy leading us toward either Socialism or Fascism (take your pick).
Does the Gospel have anything to say to this?
Where does the Sunday sermon come into any of this?
What prophetic boldness is required of faithful preachers?
What would be the cost of that boldness?
What does Holy Week and Easter have to say to any of this?