On Friday morning I detoured into downtown to walk through
We walked through the park and shared bits of our stories. His name is Theodore. He is 30, African-American, born in
We talked a bit about what had happened in the park when I was a child. I shared with him how my own sense of ministry, and my own feeling of being called into ministry were shaped by the memories of what people of faith had done in places like
He told me he wanted to find a job as a painter. I asked him if he had any construction experience and, when he said “no,” I suggested asking the folks at the
In the grand scheme of things, hanging drywall – or ripping it down when it’s been flooded out – are probably more necessary jobs than pastoral ministry. In any case, such work certainly offers the great satisfaction of immediate results.
I left the
As Martin Luther King said in calling for an end to the war in
Signs and symptoms of spiritual death are all around us in the American empire. We continue to be, as Dr. King noted 40 years ago, the greatest purveyor of violence in the world. Our coarsened culture has become also the greatest purveyor of cheapened sexuality, mass consumerism and hyperindividualism.
Despite what some preachers will contend, and despite what some passages of scripture seem to suggest, I cannot believe that God sends down huge storms to destroy wayward societies. But the still, small voice of God does speak through the whirlwind, calling us in the wake of Katrina to refocus our priorities, to rebuild the commonwealth, to restore justice to the public square and repair the breaches of the cities’ streets to live in. In such work, a profound joy meets our time’s deepest need.