Short Rant on Poverty in America

I am feeling very reflective lately. More reflective than usual– which is saying something. Things are changing in my life. Everything seems to be changing in my life, actually. This past weekend, I shared in the final board meeting of The Young Clergy Women Project. I joined this board six months after I was ordained. It has been there through all of the ups and downs of my ministry thus far. But not anymore. My service is complete. It feels strange. Stranger than leaving the church I currently serve for my next call. I don’t know why that is. Maybe because it’s already happened. Maybe because I’m trying to adjust even after waking up in the middle of the night with a ton of ideas for my sisters in Christ.

Those ideas that wake me up in the middle of the night for the church continue. I suspect they always will — whether I’m considering the leadership of young clergy women or the children running to find a spot on the chancel steps. As I prepare to leave one church for another, I’m thinking about all of those ideas that have been on the back burner. I’m thinking about those things that I really hoped I could do with the church I’m leaving — but it just wasn’t in their hearts. I don’t know if there’s even a right time to talk about this part. To say in black and white that there are things I couldn’t do with them and there are things that I wanted to do. Those things that I’m still dreaming about. Those things that I’m still waiting for the church. I don’t know if that always requires a move, but it did for me because I still refuse to believe that the poor will always be with us. It’s not the only reason I’m moving onto my next call. There are other reasons that are too personal to vocalize but this is one of the things that I was never able to make connect with the church I serve. I still heard them repeat that phrase saying that the poor would always be with us — as if it’s a problem that can’t be solved. I don’t agree. I think that’s crap theology and I’d really like the church to take our God seriously enough to actually do something about it.
Truly, I’m impatient because we are losing the war on poverty. We have been losing it for a long time. Before welfare queens. Before food stamps. Before I was even born. I didn’t have to read this article to be reminded. It’s something I have seen in every place I have called home whether or not I was doing enough to advocate for the poor. (And right now, I’m not doing much.) So, I lament because I have become complacent. I have forgotten or ignored that this is one of the dreams I had when I was ordained. This is the work I most wanted to do. And somehow I stopped doing it. It’s safe to say that I’m mad at myself for not fighting harder. I’m mad at the church (not any one church but church in general) for worrying more about our financial health as an institution than the fact that most of our neighbors are barely surviving. I’m mad that we haven’t done more for God’s people. I’m mad because I’m not really sure where to start anymore. So I want to remember that passion and live it. Really live it so that we can only talk about the poor in spirit rather than those that are literally hungry and thirsty and homeless.
Or maybe this rant is proof that I should have gone to church this morning instead of laying in bed with a book. Or maybe not.

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