Rev. Kim was invited to speak at a prayer vigil in support of DREAMers on December 20 at the State House Annex in Trenton, and offered the following:
There was a man in my congregation whose life was just memorialized this past weekend. He was a kind man; earnest, sincere. And while we can likely each think of someone in our lives who has some of these same characteristics, this person was incredibly unique. In fact, I had to remind those who grieved him that he was human.
He was so special, you see, because this man took words seriously. He once told his daughter that taking words seriously was his higher power. We’re all meaning makers, he’d explain. We look to make meaning, but we also make meaning by what we do with words in the world.
I serve a congregation made up of theists and atheists and agnostics and folks who don’t like to be boxed into an identity. Still, last Sunday we lit a menorah and recalled the story of the Jewish people. Triumph against oppression. Celebration after years of removal and dismissal. An allowance – fought for, won – to be a people among other peoples.
And this Sunday, we will gather to retell the story of Mary and Joseph’s journey – young brown people without papers, let alone healthcare, escaping the census whose primary goal was to make a yardstick of who was in and who was out.
We will recall the Shepherds’ willingness – terrified but willing – to follow a road, with barely any direction, but toward the possibility of some kind of salvation from the threat, from the Hell, their people lived. I always cringe, wondering what their faces were when they saw their messiah fresh from the womb. The need was immediate; the despair was present. What kind of cruel gift, that the people would still have to wait for their Messiah to walk, let alone speak.
In my tradition, we may not each believe in the same way some of our Jewish or Christian brothers and sisters do, but we take seriously words, and stories such as these, because they help us find ourselves within the people who faced grotesque trials before us and who can be our teachers, our inspiration, our grounding today.
Trials of determining who was in and who was out; of how we determine who is worthy of a place to birth a child, and then dare I suggest, raise a fruitful citizen. Trials of bravery and the courage to follow a road without certain outcome; of depletion when the need is so great, so present now and still, in the waiting for some salvific presence, we learn that we mustn’t passively wait to receive, but actively be the ones who must continue the journey on. We recall these stories, we take seriously their words, so that we might learn how to bring forth a new world.
Whatever your belief – religious or political – this is no time to be lazy with our words. This is no time to be passive in our beliefs. This is no time to allow people in leadership to worship this Sunday, singing the hymns of liberation and equality, of empire stricken down, and joy found in the world and then come Monday, pen in their hands, new toys in their pockets, allow young brown people to be removed from their home, from their journey, from their willingness to help bring forth some beauty, let alone salvation, into this country that is ours together.
We must demand – faithfully, secularly, I don’t care much the reason why any one person does– we must simply demand that words, that lives, that our shared life together, is taken seriously. And if those in power in there can’t bring themselves to take their own speeches to heart, they better take the words – and votes – of each of us out here with sincerity.
We’re all meaning makers by how we choose to be, speak and act in the world. This Holy season, what will your higher power be? You, and the many who gather with us in spirit and on different State House steps throughout the country, will be mine.