taking the words of Jesus seriously

“The only thing strong enough to move you from the first half of life to the second half is faith in the midst of suffering, the ability to bear darkness and uncertainty, to carry the mystery of paradox.” -Fr. Richard Rohr

In the evenings, when my feet are sore from the day’s work and the clothes from Sunday’s chores are souring half-dried in the washer, I turn off the dreadful news so that I might stir the mac and cheese, and chase my son’s dump truck, and not face the worries of the world. Folks are tired, of this I’m certain.

As we gallop down our hall, I think about my Twitter feed and the weight that I’ve absorbed just from reading commentary of current events and the festering wounds of our history. “I’ve got to stop following so many melancholic activists,” I consider just seconds before remembering that they’re the ones who are teaching me how to not look away. It’s so important to not look away right now.

But people are weary and nervous. Folks are tired of riding the yo-yos of policy scares and rumors of war, tired of explaining why they matter, tired of loose lips and hateful tones and violent threats, tired of divisions and extremes. They’re tired of watching humans be treated as less than human, tired of wondering if the Church is going to make it, if our country’s going to make it. Tired of trying to figure out what power and purpose and time they actually have to do anything. Tired of bad news. Desperate for good.

In response to this exhaustion, I wrote a call and response liturgy for the fighters of the good fight who feel constantly bombarded with the waves of a suffering world right now. This is for anyone who may need the jolt of a communal voice willing to say again that we’re not yet done here — that God’s not yet done here. I wrote it for the foolishly hopeful, the irrationally resolved, those who woke up today — despite it all — ready to look for the overlooked and love them with all they’ve got. Those who (as Dorothy Day talked about) embraced the merciful morning with a willingness to cast their pebble into the pond. So “let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:24-25)

Sound the Alarm: A Liturgy for Troubling Times

Calling all residents of life’s second half
Who have known a death that did not kill them
Come those with very little left to lose
And those holding most things loosely but love
ALL: We need you.

Come all of you almost-indifferent and undone
Who are wielding disappointment into vigor
Come those who fell asleep in the soul’s dark night
But have awakened to a chest full of hope
ALL: We need you.

Come with your words–old, eaten, and new
Come, though uncertain about where it’s all headed
Come with your long aching need to be heard
And you who are new to the listening
ALL: We need you.

Come resolved to creatively find third ways
Come committed to not rushing out of tension
Come with eyes unwilling to overlook injustice
And a heart unwilling to forego celebration
ALL: We need you

Come ragamuffin, radical, rebel, repressed
Come you who were wrong and willing to say it
Come refusing to deny the stories of your people
Come with the salve of God’s grace as your map
ALL: We need you.

Come marchers, intercessors, artists and prophets
Come newcomers and those who have tried, tried again
Get close, get close, get closer right now
Draw near, ask questions, sing songs, take steps
ALL: We need you, together.

And together, we’ll be patient and mercifully kind
Not envying, boasting, prideful or rude
Not selfish, short-fused, score-keeping, or spiteful
But rejoicing in the goodness of what’s to be shared
ALL: We need you. We need you together.

Because together the movement keeps going
Sound the alarm, because love cannot fail
Come resisters, revolutionaries, the meek who get the earth
There will indeed be a story to tell 

And it is this: That when the Light was threatened
All God’s people said, “Let’s go.”
ALL: Let’s go. 

About The Author

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Britney Winn Lee is a writer, mama, wife, and neighbor living in Shreveport, LA, where she works as the director of a community arts program. She is currently signed with Wipf and Stock Publishers for a ministry memoir whose working title is “The Way is Where: A Complicated Search for Radical Faithfulness” (due in 2018). Her public writings can be found on Red Letter Christians blog, Art House America blog, and her personal site www.britneywinnlee.com.

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