Friday, December 15, 2006

the Little Clans

Here in the States, the news is filled with
the tragic story of three climbers who are
trapped on the side of Mount Hood. Weather
conditions severely limit rescue operations,
and it looks like the weather is not going to
improve any time soon.

One of the things that we (humans) do well
is to come together in such situations - to
search, to pray, to comfort the families.
In such times, we seem to 'get it right' as
far as what it means to be part of a greater

Yet, there is a part of me that wonders.
What would the community's response be
if it had been three minority families coming
public, requesting search and rescue operations
for their sons/brothers/husbands/fathers who
were trapped on the side of Mount Poverty
and only had a very short window of opportunity
in which help could reach them?

What would the community's response be?
What would the church's? What would mine

Here in Cincinnati, the City Council faces a
round of cuts in order to balance the budget.
The worthy goal of putting more police on
the streets in the face of a rising homicide
rate and other violent crimes, will be met
by cutting services to the homeless, to the
poor, to those who are the neediest. Several
health care clinics will be shut down, as
well as a pharmacy, and those who need
such services will have to travel further to
get them, though they are the least able to
afford such travel.

Yet, when a developer comes before the
Council with a plan to build condominiums
on the river, with prices ranging well over
a million dollars, approval is quickly granted,
with tax incentives of some $13 million. In
other words, the developer will not have to
pay such taxes, which means the income of
the city is further depleted, which means the
possibility of further cuts, which means
the poor, the needy, the lost suffer more.

One of the familiar readings of this Advent
and Christmas season is that from the 5th
chapter of Micah, where the prophet says
that the one who is to rule Israel, the Messiah,
will come from Bethlehem of Ephrathah.
And what does the prophet say of this mighty
family, this strong group, this rich and
powerful entity?

Micah says, "[you] are one of the little clans."

In other words, from the group that is marginalized,
will come the family that will find shelter in a
stable; from the people who have been excluded
will come the One who would include everyone:
the little, the lost, the prostitute, the tax collector,
the leper, the murder. From those who know what
it is like to hunger for food, for health care, for
simple decency, will come the One who hungers
and thirsts for God's righteousness to burst forth
in the world. From those who have experienced
oppression and injustice, will come the One who
will set every captive free, and who will call his
followers to work for justice, peace, and
reconciliation in every human condition. From
those who get to eat from the garbage dumps
of the world, will come the One who will become
the Bread of Life, so no one ever hungers again.

It is for the little clans, the little people, the
insiginificant and overlooked people, the
broken and the young and the old, the
outsider, the alien, the immigrant that
the One of peace, of hope, of life comes.

Do we see that One coming?

(c) 2006 Thom M. Shuman

No comments: