Sometimes I bemoan the absence of leaders that really inspire me. I don’t ride the white evangelical pastor/hero train. And it’s easy to be cynical and disillusioned with Christian leaders. I don’t need a person to be Jesus for me, I’ve got Jesus for that. But sometimes I long for leadership that lifts me past the mundane of the everyday. Mother Theresa does that for me. Malcolm X. Martin Luther King Jr.
Most recently I’ve been following the journey of several people fasting on behalf of immigration reform. My friend Lisa Harper, director of mobilization for Sojourners, is 21 days into the fast, along with several other core fasters. They have caught the attention of some important people- in fact Michelle and Barak Obama came to visit. The fasters are living in a tent near the mall in D.C.
But that isn’t what has inspired me.
Christians are great at talking- we love to fight with each other and talk about how much we know. We love to condemn other people’s theology and actions. We love to withdraw from engaging with the world or choose to engage with only three issues of our choice.
This prophetic choice to fast steps outside all of that.
I am inspired because…
In their fasting they seek God in prayer. I don’t always have faith that God is more powerful than political gridlock and partisan politics. They have challenged me to have faith and pray.
In their fasting they pour out their own bodies as a living sacrifice. It isn’t pointing the finger- there is great humility in seeking change through fasting. To sacrifice your physical comfort and sustenance- is a quiet and yet incredibly loud call for change and justice.
In their fasting they go beyond words, which is often what I turn to first when I seek change. They have stirred my conscience without saying a thing.
In watching the days rack up- 10 days, then 14 days, then 18 days, I felt a growing pressure in me. Erna, isn’t it worth it? For millions of people that are hurt by this broken system, Erna couldn’t you join them?
I do not fast from food. I fast from other things, but I shy away from fasting from food all together. And honestly it has been years since I fasted from food completely. But on December 1st I joined the fast for families.
The first day it was more personal- it was about stepping out from a slavery to food. Stepping away form how shopping and cooking and eating control my day. How feeling good or bad about what I eat takes up so much brain space.
The second day I had to confront my lack of faith, my unbelief that Jesus is more powerful than partisan politics. Fasting had uncovered a cynicism and hopelessness resting comfortably in my spirituality.
This third day has been about hungering for righteousness, hungering for justice. I have felt centered in a new way- focusing on God and hungering for justice to roll down.
In Scripture we are told again and again to care for the stranger. Especially as believers- we are all at one table. Millions of brothers and sisters live in fear, have families broken apart, and are left hidden. How can we say we are one family, but then not fight for each other?
I am so hungry. I am so hungry to see change. I am so hungry to see people freed from hurtful labels like illegal and unwanted. I am so hungry for laws to change. I am hungry to see the people of God unite and stand up together to love the immigrants among us. I am hungry for justice. I am hungry. And I hope to stay that way even when the fast ends.