A Poem/Prayer by Sarah Are
Love, By Another Way
I used to think that love was simple.
You would know when you know,
What was meant, would be.
But I fell in love
And it’s not that easy.
It’s compromise and identity,
Mountains and valleys,
Apologies and memories,
It turns out,
Love took reimagining.
I used to think that Church was simple.
Church was community, not the walls,
Faith and hope mixed with call.
But then the world grew violently sick
And the way to be Church
Was to keep distance.
So doors were closed,
And people sent home.
It was all love, by another way.
And yet it was not how we imagined Sunday.
I used to think that justice was simple,
That I could make a difference, all by myself.
There was a clear right and wrong, a way I could help.
But then I learned of privilege and bias,
Of white savior complex and our Church’s silence.
And all at once, it wasn’t so easy.
I needed to learn. I needed to listen.
I needed to reframe my original vision.
I guess what I’m trying to say is
Life will throw first drafts our way.
The chance to dream,
To lead, to sing,
To love, and give,
To pray, and be.
But in order to grow,
To follow God’s lead,
We have to to do the work—
And despite our best efforts,
Love will fail.
Churches will close.
Justice will leave the vulnerable exposed.
And when that happens,
We must own our part,
Say we’re sorry
And try to restart.
So write it all down.
And write it again.
A first draft,
An epilogue, and then
Share it with me
And we will pray.
And the spirit will move,
And maybe one day,
We can write this world
inside heaven’s gate.
For I am
Starting to believe
That what matters in life
Will never be easy.
So we must imagine and imagine again.
We must dream and try, die and rise.
And in our rising, may we see
The next right reimagined thing
Until step by step we are home.
Love, by another way.
by Sarah Are | A Sanctified Art LLC | sanctifiedart.org
A reading from Leviticus
Leviticus 19:9-10; 25:8-12
When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest. You shall not strip your vineyard bare, or gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the alien: I am the Lord your God.
You shall count off seven weeks of years, seven times seven years, so that the period of seven weeks of years gives forty-nine years. Then you shall have the trumpet sounded loud; on the tenth day of the seventh month—on the day of atonement—you shall have the trumpet sounded throughout all your land. And you shall hallow the fiftieth year and you shall proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you: you shall return, every one of you, to your property and every one of you to your family. That fiftieth year shall be a jubilee for you: you shall not sow, or reap the aftergrowth, or harvest the unpruned vines. For it is a jubilee; it shall be holy to you: you shall eat only what the field itself produces.
Jubilee by Lauren Wright Pittman
inspired by Leviticus 19:9-10; 25:8-12
In the Year of Jubilee, God offers rest—a break for farmers, relief for those experiencing economic injustice, and Sabbath for the land. This radical rest is counter to the rhythm of our lives; it resists valued ideologies like efficiency and productivity and has broad economic implications. Jubilee has remained a theoretical, hopeful concept tucked away in scripture. This kind of radical slowing down is difficult to imagine, however… so is a global, economy-halting pandemic.
Rest feels unnatural in a pandemic, but it’s available to us if we are willing to receive it. Rest slows our vision and illuminates gifts that normally whirl by us. While sheltering in place, I’ve searched for positivity, and during such great loss, I’ve found more—more time, space, and color. I found a patch of mint in my yard, and the scent became my soul’s balm. Rest offers recovery. The earth is thriving with a break from humanity. Scientists are seeing significant decreases in air pollution and animals are returning to previously uninhabitable waterways.
Rest offers perspective. God does not want us worn ragged, reaping the maximum extent of our harvest. God wants new eyes for us to recognize broken systems so we can enact change that sustains everyone: “You shall leave them for the poor and the alien: I am the Lord your God” (v.10). God is found in the connective tissue of our relationships to our neighbor—particularly those most vulnerable.
Rest reminds us of our interconnectedness. Despite physical distancing, people are rediscovering one another while longing for and celebrating every moment of connection. Despite future insecurity, people are finding innovative ways to support one another. Rest uncovers the enoughness in our lives, and as my dear mentor used to say, “Enough is abundance.” What will we glean from this time of rest?
A Reading from the Gospel of Mark
As he taught, he said, ‘Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and to be greeted with respect in the market-places, and to have the best seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets! They devour widows’ houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.’
He sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny. Then he called his disciples and said to them, ‘Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.’
Lament of a Gift by Hannah Garrity
inspired by Mark 12:38-44
In this painting, I have depicted two coins from the time of Jesus. Two. Two is not enough to live on. Economist Thomas Picketty’s new book, Capital and Ideology (Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2020), details how societies throughout the ages have structured inequality into their/our economic systems. He argues that the economy is not a force of nature. Human ideology shapes the economy. Marshall Steinbaum sums up Picketty’s new work: “In his sweeping new history, the economist systematically demolishes the conceit that extreme inequality is our destiny, rather than our choice.”
In this text, Jesus agrees with Picketty. An exegesis of this text by Addison Wright establishes that Jesus is actually lamenting the widow’s gift. Wright cites Jesus’ overall viewpoint on the financial structures of the day, arguing that this cannot be an affirmation of the widow’s selflessness. Rather, it must be a lament of the societal structures that cause the widow to give all of her resources to organized religion.
For me, the lament perspective on this traditional stewardship text is transformational. It is inspiring me to engage financially with the Church in a much more personal way. With sudden clarity, I connected the fact that Jesus’ Church is the financial ideology I believe in. The hypocrisy that Jesus observes in this text is the same hypocrisy that I have always struggled with as a member of the Church of the present. So, what actions can I take, what questions can I ask, and what conversations can I have to ensure that the Church I am giving to is the Church Jesus meant to create?
— Hannah Garrity