By Rev. Deb Stehlin, Director for Evangelical Mission
As I’ve been out and about lately, I’ve noticed people wearing safety pins. It’s something that first started after the Brexit vote in Europe, as a sign that the person wearing the pin is “safe.” A person wearing a safety pin has decided to help if someone is being harassed because of their race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or immigrant status. They have decided to put their bodies in a place of tension — even danger.
That got me thinking about Jesus.
Jesus was very intentional about where he put his body. He’d arrive in a town and choose to show up in the uncomfortable places – the outskirts of town where the lepers were deported, the lonely place at the Samaritan well, the wrong side of the tracks where sinners and tax collectors gathered.
People started to pay attention to where Jesus put his body. Why? Because every time he chose to put his body somewhere, it made a strong statement about God’s dream for the world. It made a strong statement about who matters in the reign of God.
Where one chooses to put her or his body matters because it puts flesh on Jesus’ promise to be with us always, even to the end of the age.
His prophetic work eventually resulted in government and religious authorities putting Jesus’ body on a cross. And rather than participate in the empire’s system of violence, Jesus chose forgiveness over retaliation. He chose self-giving love. “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing,” his body cried.
THIS ADVENT, AS WE remember that God came to us in a body, I am more mindful of the places of tension where our synod’s people are putting their bodies. Our bishop and others have prayed by the river with the water protectors at Standing Rock. Pastor Jane Buckley-Farlee walks with our Somali brothers and sisters who wonder what the future holds for them. Pastors Patrick and Luisa Cabello Hansel pray with their members who fear deportation. Others march to remind us that Black Lives Matter. Many others sit by bedsides, whispering prayers for God to bring healing to bodies that are sick.
Where one chooses to put her or his body matters, not only because it makes a strong statement about God’s dream for the world, but also because it puts flesh on Jesus’ promise to be with us always, even to the end of the age.
I thank God for you and all the ways you put flesh on God’s fierce love for us in Jesus Christ.