Fellow Passengers: This week’s Poetry Passage* (Job 24) transports me to last night’s service of the Baptist Peace Fellowship Summer Gathering, aka Peace Camp, here on the campus of Eastern Mennonite University. There are some pretty consistent predictables with gatherings such as this, where members of one of the more progressive wings of Baptist life gather to worship and play. One, we will hear lots about the continuing injustices that are plaguing our world – poverty, violence, discrimination. This week we’ve been hearing about the struggles in Chiapas and Nicaragua and Burma. A second constant you can count on is, as one participant in last night’s open mike talent show described it, the obligatory musical satire of end times theology. We had two such numbers last night, an encore performance of the Coffee House Rapture Blues and a new number that brought the house down with its finale zombie chorus (where everyone sings along, but in zombie-like mumbo jumbo). You had to be there.
The book of Job is like Peace Camp in one of its constants – you hear lots about the continuing injustice plaguing Job’s world. When it comes to the end times, though, Job just doesn’t have the heart for satire. He is filled with too much grief and too much faith that the moral arc of the universe bends toward justice, and he is banking on an end time judgment where all the perpetrators of violence and oppression will come to their doom. It is interesting to read this chapter and hear how contemporary and progressive Job’s analysis of injustice is: the rich are exploiting the poor, driving them into wastelands, depriving them of living wages for their work, ripping families apart as the infants of the poor are seized from the breasts of their mothers. All you have to do is hang around some of the Burmese refugee kids here at Peace Camp and learn their history to know that Job was talking about situations like theirs.
Job wondered how long God was going to wait around before bringing about that day of reckoning, that day of retribution, when the poor would be redeemed and the rich would become the feast for worms. I wonder if God wonders how long the Body of Christ is going to wait around before we announce the day of the Lord and start actually living and forming our communities as if the Kingdom of God was indeed in our midst. Instead of engaging in that second chapter of Acts kind of “realized eschatology” as we learned to call it in seminary, it feels like we’re singing the zombie version of our praise choruses, hardly aware of the implications of their words to our daily lives. Or maybe I’m just feeling a little zombie-like because I go from hearing these incredible stories of people’s faith journeys and resilient struggles against the most horrific injustices, straight into the cafeteria for the all-you-can-eat buffet topped off with a Cheerwine float.
How about you? Where does this passage take you on your journey of faith? Feel free to comment.