What Does God Require of Us, These Days?

By: The Rev. Dr. Stephen G. Ray Jr.

Our time is in need of redeemers of the public square. This age needs people who by dint of person, by peculiarity of calling, and by depth of passionate love of God and neighbor pour themselves out in big ways and small, in places East and West, North and South; in the cosmopolis and the place, in the temple, the mosque, and the sanctuary so that others might find succor and hope. Our time, this time in our public life needs redeemers because the singular space in which we experience and express the sacred gift of our humanity is under assault and the ramparts may yet fail. It falls the sacred duty to us all but, to some in particular to be redeemers the public square. The sacredness of the public square is rooted in the reality that it is the place that we become human.

Where else can we find language to give voice to the fathomless depths of experience, longing, hope, and despair that is us all? Where also do we find the unique sounds which when uttered by our vocality become our name? Where else do we find spaces in which custom creates structures for us to express that most human of impulses, empathy?

Our time needs redeemers because this sacred space, our public square, has become awash in xenophobia, bigotry, and hatred. Our place to be human is today one in which venality seems to have carried the day. From the most powerful referring to our neighbors humanity as “illegal,” to the meanest among us exercising their resentment at having to share space with Black people by calling the police to disrupt the quotidian exercise of their humanity. To the rending of families by authorities more interested in maintaining a mythic nation the creature of the fever dreams of a blood and soil movement.

We need redeemers because violence seems to have become the lingua franca of this age, giving voice to the worst in us and never the better. The trail of mass shooting bears somber witness. Leaving in its wake shattered lives strewn in schools; places of worship; night clubs; and in the most common of places, our streets. 

Our times need redeemers of the public square

Redeemers whose work will be to make room for those being pushed into the shadows; make space for those being forced back into the closet; hold a seat for those denied entry. These days and these times need redeemers who will forcefully stand as witness to the truth that in God’s world, the public square has room for us all! In a word, these times need the kinds of people who ferociously defend the humanity of all God’s kin. 

These times require of us that we not only have the courage to dream a better world but, that we help others find their courage. The kind of courage that will be the flicker of light to those huddled against the night seemingly overcome by looming darkness. The kind of courage which bears within it the certainty that no power on the is earth is strong enough to hold back the dawn. I charge you, gentle reader, to fully claim your place in this struggle to redeem the public square. Our public square. The place in which the luminosity of our common humanity shines. Claim that place with all the strength that faith in God and one another bestows upon us. I realize this is no easy task to which I call you but, I also know that you got this!

I write with a confidence born of hope that as a reader of this blog your longing for a better now is keen. This acuity is a testimony that God has given you what you need in this sacred calling. For I suspect that God has shown you a more perfect way in the vivifying power of human community. Especially, as the power of grace and love has given you wind when you faltered and strengthened your heart when you grew weary.

God has given you what you need to help a world which needs you so badly.  In your own way and in your own spaces, near and far. The call and cry of a world broken and bruised, to redeem the public square so that there might be room for us all has been given voice in your heart. Might you hearken unto it with all of the passion of that verse of old: Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer God! Be jubilant, my feet!

This fall, Sowing Holy Questions focuses on beloved community.

One Response

  1. Is it allowable to share this writing on social media platforms, such as facebook (if only to “friends.”)

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