“Good trouble” is a phrase that has grown in the consciousness of the nation. Representative John Lewis, a towering figure for civil rights, coined the phrase; and more than that, he lived it. Our text for this week says there are wrongs that need righted. But maybe it isn’t quite that clear. It says there are systems, there are presumptions and prejudices, there are oppressive patterns and economic cycles that are impossible to break out of without help. How will we disturb the city today?
But wait, some are thinking, we can’t get political. It would tear us apart. A different approach is needed. We are making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. What would that transformation look like? What would be different in the kin-dom of God? Today is a day for casting a vision of what it means to be working toward, leaning toward, co-creating with God the kin-dom we long for.
Shall we sing about peace, about making peace and studying war no more? Shall we pray about an end to hunger and about living into God’s abundance even here and now in this fruitful world? Shall we stand for an end to violence between nations and on our streets and in our homes? Shall we take small steps toward a carbon neutral existence, clean up our waterways and streets, call for recycling and a plastic-free lifestyle? What does the kin-dom look like in your neighborhood? What would end and what would be enhanced? Who is working with us on this vision? Who can we partner with as we seek to be more kin-dom focused in our living and working and planning and worship?
Can we fix everything? No, but we can hold up a vision that inspires us and those who come alongside us. We can invite the next generation to join us because we are heading somewhere, no longer content with things as they are, and ready to be a part of the solution. Our worship has a thread of holy discontent, wanting the kin-dom to come on earth as it is in heaven. That’s our prayer every time we gather; let’s mean it.
And as always, we start with ourselves, not simply pointing fingers at all the problems out there. We pay attention to our language for worship, expanding the images of God, providing balance in gender and watching how we depict different races and nations when we gather. Our songs can sing of a multicultural expression that may be bigger than our local context. But we sing with hope of a wider, more colorful world; we sing our desire to be a part of that richer world. We may stumble over the strange languages and unfamiliar rhythms, but we can grow into them, even as we are growing into a kin-dom life. It is worth the effort.
What good trouble can you stir up today as you worship? Or at least suggest? What vision of God’s kin-dom can you cast as you gather, as you sing, as you pray today? When was the last time your church was accused of “disturbing the city”?
Rev. Dr. Derek Weber, Director of Preaching Ministries, served churches in Indiana and Arkansas and the British Methodist Church. His PhD is from University of Edinburgh in preaching and media. He has taught preaching in seminary and conference settings for more than 20 years.