Nevertheless - Reflections 10-17-19

Texts for Sunday, October 20, 2019
19th Sunday after Pentecost

Genesis 32:22-31 
Psalm 121
2 Timothy 3:14-4:5 
Luke 18:1-8 

I’ve got to say it.
Nevertheless, she persisted. 

There is absolutely no way that I can read this story without hearing in my head the infamous line by Senator Mitch McConnell “explaining” why the Senate voted to silence Senator Elizabeth Warren at the confirmation hearing for Senator Jeff Sessions to become the US Attorney general.

She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted. 
- Senator Mitch McConnell, 2/7/2017 

That phrase went viral on social media. It struck a chord in the political climate. It became a commercial trend with all sorts of products, including tattoos, printed with the statement. It became a comment on the history of all civil rights movements and the necessity of persistence. It was embraced as a description of a common experience of a woman’s life, speaking “truth” of so many encounters with men who “warned and explained”.

Obviously in this parable, it spoke the truth for the widow. And it paid off. In the parable this judge, who neither feared God nor respected people, warned, explained, ignored, pushed away this widow. Nevertheless, she persisted. Eventually, he relented. Note it was not because it was the right thing to do, but because he wanted her off his back. No moral response here.

When I read/hear this story, I think of all the protests through time, even just my lifetime. Civil rights, voting rights, women’s rights, human rights, black lives matter, march for our lives, and climate change. I’ve stood out in the streets protesting these at different times in my life. I have not been nearly as persistent as many are. However, the moral arc of the universe is long, but bends toward justice and we need to keep at it. Greta Thunberg is one of the more recent ones who live this phrase – nevertheless, she persisted. 

Protests, advocacy letters, and letters to the editor focus on need for justice, and are a form of badgering those who seem to live within their self-interest without accountability for serving justice. Maybe we help them see what is right and just; maybe we bug them enough that they act to just get rid of us.

But this parable was offered by Jesus speaking about the need to pray always and to not lose heart. Wait. Prayer? 

Isn’t that interesting? 
How often do we separate our demands for justice in the world or our claims of a moral imperative, from our life of prayer? 

This parable provides the insight that prayer is not just about talking with God. It is not about self-interest. It expresses a demand for justice.

Maybe it is God who is the widow in the story? 
And maybe we are the ones who refuse to hear?

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Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Iowa City

Gathered by grace. Scattered for service.

123 E Market Street
Iowa City, IA 52245