Thursday, December 4, 2014

Hope and a Door

 In the Christian tradition, last Sunday was the beginning of Advent, the season when we focus on the theme of waiting as we look once again for the birth of the Christ child.  During each of the next four weeks, we light the candles of the Advent wreath, and reflect on the call to wait with particular attitudes.  Last Sunday's call was to wait with hope.

As it happens, last Sunday was also the end of a long personal Advent for me.  I have been a member of my church for 24 years.  For almost that long, I have been asking, prodding, reminding my faith community that our mostly accessible bathroom needs an automatic door.  Last Sunday, my Christmas came early.  The bathroom now has an automatic door!

I share this news for several reasons, one of which is I'm proud of my church.  They clearly love me, and live a commitment to justice for marginalized people.  They live the gospel in so many ways that when I preach, it's hard to discern where they need to be challenged.  It will be even harder now that I can open and close the bathroom door by myself!

Being able to open and close a bathroom door is no small matter in the life of someone with a disability.  Many of us, myself included, need assistance with intimate care.  Getting that means we must often sacrifice something called privacy.  As I celebrated with my congregation, I also issued a challenge I think more able bodied people need to hear:  The next time you feel your privacy threatened or watch it slip away, take a moment to be in solidarity with those of us for whom privacy is of necessity a rare commodity.

I write this in the middle of what has been a very difficult week for this country.  The decisions in the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases have evoked passionate feelings about  the realities of racism and distrust of the criminal justice system in America.  Solving these issues, creating a climate of fairness and trust, is even harder-- a lot harder-- than getting an automatic door.  But as I ponder the convergence of Advent, a door, and the legacy of racism, I see a symbol of hope in the midst of a far too long Advent for people of color. The door reminds me that hope still lives. Advents can end, justice can come, and trust can happen.   However long it takes, may it be so.