When I gather with the Gospel Choir for the 8:00pm Jazz & Gospel service tonight, I will sit among “imbeciles,” as Bernard Marcus, co-founder of Home Depot, recently called people who support Occupy Wall Street.
And whiners, too, those ungrateful souls who should be happy for the jobs they have and not complain about the ultra-wealthy who just happen to be “successful,” as Chase banker Jamie Dimon said recently, as if the $29 billion government bailout he engineered for his bank had actually been astute financial management.
There’s no telling who will show up to worship a baby born to two nobodies in a dreary town’s dirty stable. The story says to look for shepherds. I also expect to see unemployed people desperate for work, a woman facing cancer, people behind on their rent, a couple preparing to raise a child in a tiny apartment, some lonely people, some sad people, and a whole lot of people who will never walk across the dining room at St. Andrew’s Country Club (named for a common laborer) in Boca Raton, FL, as former Goldman Sachs chief Leon Cooperman recently did, and receive handshakes from fellow plutocrats for defending their kind.
In church, among the 99%, I don’t expect to hear any envy of the mega-rich — disdain perhaps, and pity, but no envy. Who would want to live such a clueless and heartless life? When the preacher shouts for freedom and justice, people won’t cheer because they covet Ferraris or $60 million apartments overlooking Central Park. They will cheer because they believe in freedom and justice.
When throats can barely sing at the joyful sound of “Adeste Fideles,” it won’t be trust fund envy. It will be joy at God’s coming near. When people hold hands while singing “Silent Night,” it won’t be hands begging for scraps from the manor table. It will be a free people rejoicing at the Savior who is their guarantor of freedom and dignity.
I can tell you now that some of that hand-holding will be men holding men, and women holding women. For that’s the way it is when people are free to be what God made them.
When the preacher – an African-American who grew up in the racist Delta of Mississippi, 20 miles from where Emmett Till was murdered in 1955 – looks out over his flock, he will see races mixing, nationalities mixing, skin colors of every hue, the blackest of black, the whitest of white, and many shades of brown and yellow, the very loss of “racial purity” that the Klansmen who ruled his county once feared.
He will see men who don’t want to control women’s lives, and women who have no intention of letting men do that. He will see children being raised to value learning, not subservience, who will one day be “uppity” and skilled and determined to make their way in life.
I expect our gathering to be bumptious and boisterous. No whining, no envy, no admiration of wealth, no sullen defense of privilege, no pretending that all-take-and-no-give is successful management.
Then it will turn humble and silent, not in fear of offending the mighty, but in quiet joy that the true Almighty has come among us.