Friday, April 3, 2020
I never really thought about it before. The best teachers I have had have done more than verbally teach me. They have done two things: they have listened and they have been exemplars. This passage carries within it the theme of integrated solidarity … God standing with us in the midst of suffering.
The two teachers who come to mind for me are the two faculty members who served as my faculty advisors throughout my doctoral work at St. Paul School of Theology: Dr. Tex Sample and Dr. Emilie Townes. Both were professors of Church and Society (think social justice), and God knew I needed them for that time in my life. I was lost somewhere between privilege and brokenness, and I didn’t know how to find my way or my voice.
Tex’s area of focus was what he called “Blue Collar Ministry.” He has a capacity to hear the cries from people who spent their lives working hard and living hard. He knows how to speak to their cries with compassion.
Emilie is an African-American clergywoman who spent her years researching and teaching from a “womanist” perspective (combining both feminist and black theological perspectives). I learned from Emilie to listen to the strong voice of African-American women who have, in so many ways, been the hidden skeletal structure, not only within the black church, but within the larger community.
From them I learned to see God standing with those who have been struck in the back and have endured insults and spitting. From them I learned how to practice this integrated solidarity with those who do not have the privilege and power granted to me by the color of my skin or my relative wealth. From them I learned that the face of Christ is found in the least of these.
I learned from those who teach … who listen … who act!
Teach me, God, to find you in the face of those who suffer. Teach me to see where you stand with us in our suffering. Amen.