[#pictureLent] Mar. 12: Speak Up

By Juana Jordan
Harris Chapel UMC, Ft. Lauderdale, FL

First, read Proverbs 31:8-9

I had been a reporter for only a few months at my first newspaper when I got an assignment to write about a couple who had given birth to two sets of twins nine months apart. The couple didn't earn much money. In fact, the father had recently lost his job. And to complicate matters, the family of six didn't own a large enough vehicle to transport all the babies to the doctor at one time.

The story was really about their coping and managing strategies. But it turned into something more. It caught the attention of a local car dealership, which gifted the family a van, and the eye of then-Georgia Rep. Jack Kingston, who used the story to help advocate for better healthcare benefits for low-wage earning families. That was the first time I really felt my voice and words had the power to change things.

We live in a culture where we are tempted and even encouraged to turn a blind eye, be quiet, mind our own business and keep it moving. We're made to believe our voice doesn't matter and that one person doesn't really make a difference. We're so consumed with our own issues and our own problems and worried about self that we end up living into the delusion that the fight for justice, economic freedom and liberation from institutional oppressions are somebody else's job. We forget our first love - the God of mutuality - and our first call - to be our brother's and sister's keeper.

Our text is a call to remember and re-member - to help put back together the broken body of Christ and the shattered pieces of the Kingdom of God. King Lemuel’s mothers' words are a call to purpose. She reminds her son and all of us of our task to enact justice and stand for what is right. Her wisdom calls us to accountability and rings true the words of philosopher Edmund Burke that “all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

Our heritage and lineage is that of freedom fighters and liberty liberators. When we fail to speak for the voiceless and choose instead to sit down instead of defending the rights of the poor and needy, we live in denial of our created selves. And we were created with the inherent attributes and spiritual DNA of a God who says we are all persons of value and worth. And we're worth fighting for.

Was this not the message of Jesus after a woman crashed a dinner party he was attending and washed his feet with her hair? Was it not the message he sent when he decided to make dinner reservations at the tax collector Zacchaeus' house or the message he was sending when he stepped forward for a woman who was about to be stoned to death? Was this not the message Jesus left us - those who were born into iniquity  that we are still worthy of being saved? The least or rather, the most we can do, is pay it forward for someone else.

Prayer: Lord, may we respond when there is a need to act. Amen.

Discussion Questions

  1. How have you been challenged to take a stand? On your job? In your community?
  2. When have you been challenged to speak up or out and did not? How did it make you feel?
  3. Knowing that one voice can make a difference, how will you begin to make a difference this week? In a month? In a year?