I’m taking a class at McCormick Theological Seminary about the prophets of the Hebrew scriptures. We’re focusing primarily on the book of Jeremiah. It’s been a fascinating look at the books of the bible that have for a long time called to me and that I have for a long time avoided because so often I feel like I don’t understand them. They use imagery that is foreign to me (an almond branch in Jeremiah 1?).
Well, one of our assignments last night was to write an oracle of our own in the spirit of Jeremiah and many of the Hebrew prophets. I wrote one, an Oracle of Despair, and went to sleep. This morning when I woke up, I went for a run and did not feel good. As I ran another “oracle” or sorts began to write itself in my mind: an Oracle of Hope.
I’m not sure what to do with them, but here they are:
Oracle of Despair
And the Lord has proclaimed to the new Roman Empire:
I call my children,
but they do not come.
Hiding in fear,
they scream from under the bridges of marginalization;
they shout from the deserts of isolation;
they cry from the dark shadows of forgottenness;
they plead from behind walls of fear and exclusion!
You do not hear them!
You have refused them!
You have sent them away empty!
My children have been led astray
by glitz and glamour,
and heroes with fallacious strength.
They turn from me
and do not trust my strength,
Like blind flies, blowing with every gust of wind,
your simple minds know nothing but your own desire,
drinking your own bile and thirsting for more,
feasting on the waste of your own making.
The grey glow shown on your faces,
gazing into mirrors,
posting idols of yourselves,
Your dark eyes reveal your emptiness:
you cannot see the tragedy,
you cannot witness the suffering,
you cannot bear the pain,
You refuse to see.
You refuse to witness.
You refuse to bear…one another…the “other.”
And the Lord calls out:
It’s not too late, yet.
It’s not too far, yet.
It’s not too much, yet.
You can still do what is right.
But I know you won’t,
You’ve gone too far to give up on pride.
You’ve gone too far into your luxury caves,
believing they can protect you from what is to come,
but they won’t,
From houses of white you make silly rules that benefit the few,
but your rules will not protect you.
From behind tinted windows you connive to take what is not yours,
but you cannot see your own desperation.
From towers of gold you look down and spit on the masses,
but your towers will fall.
From platforms of power you campaign for peace,
but you are against your own people.
The enemy is not “out there.”
The enemy is among you.
The enemy is in you.
The enemy is you.
And I tell you
your foundation is too weak,
your tower is too tall,
your walls are too thin,
your words are too empty,
they cannot save you from what is to come!
You have become the architect of your own destruction,
and I will stand by and watch,
weeping because I warned you,
raging because I counseled you,
hoping because…I made you.
You will stand alone outside.
You will be left in your emptiness.
Your name will be forgotten.
And the forgotten you ignored will become known.
And the poor you spit on will rise up,
And the immigrant you sent away will be your master,
And the transgender you silenced will shut you out.
In those days,
there will be suffering.
But I will call my children,
and they will know my voice,
and they will come,
and they will begin anew.
Oracle of Hope
And the Lord has proclaimed to the suffering under the new empire:
Salvation will come to you, my children, through the ravages of
privatization of the common welfare, and
marginalization of the needy.
Salvation will come to you, my children, through the struggle for
dignity among the forgotten ones thoughtlessly
thrown into waste pools,
life among the lifeless laws that imprison you,
hope among the structures that try to steal it from you,
peace among the systems that value the prophets of war
over the lives of my people.
Lift up your voices,
for I am the Lord of all creation:
the fish swim by the power of my tides,
the animals walk by the power of my breath,
the birds hear my song and share it with the world.
Lift up your voices,
for I hear you already:
I will heed your calls for justice,
I will bring down your oppressors,
I will free you from the captivity of your poverty.
Lift up your voices,
and make yourselves be heard:
you will find yourselves again;
you will discover my love for you again;
you will unearth your pride
that was buried so long ago.
Lift up your voices, my children,
and I will be your God:
showing you the way,
filling you with hope,
giving you what you need.
And the Lord proclaimed:
It will not be easy.
Your oppressor is strong,
but I am stronger.
Though you may die in the struggle,
you will live in my love.
Remember my love,
For it will nourish you for the journey ahead.
Do not forget my covenant,
for you will be tested in it.
Though you grow weary,
you will find strength in me
and in one another.
Lean on your sisters and brothers,
and do not be afraid,
Salvation will come through
your standing up when you are told to sit down,
your gathering up when the bullhorn tells you to disperse, and
your pushing against the marble of the Wall Street,
breaking down the gates of privilege.
Salvation shall come when
the rulers of today fall off their pedestals made of paper,
the one percent have no one left to supply their greed,
the xenophobic officer of the old regime
stretches out his starving hand for food,
and the dark-skinned stranger reaches back with bread.
For salvation shall come through
my love for you,
my vision for you, and
the ashes of your oppressors’ kingdom.
Lift up your voices, my children. Lift them up.