By Sarah Bagge
II Timothy 4:1-5
In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and in view of [Christ’s] appearing and [kin-dom], I solemnly urge you: proclaim the message; be persistent whether the time is favorable or unfavorable; convince, rebuke, and encourage, with the utmost patience in teaching. For the time is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths. As for you, always be sober, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, carry out your ministry fully.
In today’s reading, Paul urges Timothy to join the long biblical tradition of proclaiming the message of God’s kin-dom persistently. These two would be very familiar with the stories of prophets like Isaiah, Jonah, and Miriam. Their calls for change and repentance were sometimes heard and heeded, but often not. They continued to share the message boldly, whether the time was favorable or unfavorable.
This passage got me to wondering where those prophets are among us today. On President’s Day, several members of the movement support team pulled a couple of wagons full of snacks, masks, and hot chocolate down to Black Lives Matter Plaza. We were there for a demonstration against the ongoing deportation of Black immigrants under President Biden. Deportations have continued by the hundreds under the Biden administration, with a particular focus on flights to Haiti, Jamaica, Cameroon, Angola, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
There weren’t many people walking around downtown, and those who were seemed puzzled. One commented, “He’s out of office – why are they protesting?” The time for calling out racial injustice, it appears, is no longer favorable. Demonstrations against the immigration detention camps set up by Trump at the border drew tens of thousands to the same spot a couple of years ago. Now that power has changed, there’s a strong, dangerous temptation to think our work is done. I believe that the idea that white supremacist policies are the purview of just one political party is one of the myths appealing to itchy ears in these days. And I’m grateful for the ongoing work of the prophets in our midst calling out injustice no matter the season.
Creator, let our Lenten disciplines train us to “always be sober, endure suffering, do the work of evangelists, and carry out your ministry fully.” Amen.