Vocation in Between the Aftermath of Violence and a Hoped-for Future | Forum for Theological Exploration

Vocation in Between the Aftermath of Violence and a Hoped-for Future

By: Dori Baker
May 01, 2015

What future does God envision for us? What future do we long to see? What are we willing to do to give shape to it?

These questions, written by FTE President Stephen Lewis, are ringing in my ears as I follow on-the-ground reports of what’s happening in Baltimore through my FTE friends writing on Facebook and Twitter. What immediate future does God envision for us? What immediate future do we long to see? What are we willing to do now to give shape to it?

We are heading into summer, a time when people go outside to celebrate, organize, and simply be together in their highs and lows. I have a sickening feeling that it will be a summer of violence. Those of you who have experienced firsthand militarized police forces, deeply disenfranchised young people, and our desperately skewed distribution of wealth and privilege: do you share a feeling of inevitability?

It is inevitable—and a good thing—that there will be more outrage, more speaking out and more seeing the stark reality of injustices, now that the cumulative deaths of Trayvon, Michael, Eric, Freddie and so many others have ripped the mask off the myth that we live in a post-racial society.

But is violence inevitable? And what are we called to do in the aftermath of now if we want to see a future filled with hope? Is there a way that we—a strong network of faith leaders whose friendships and histories of collaboration belie the words “racial divide”—might strategize and intervene to create an infrastructure of possibility, an architecture of hope?

Our vocations equip us to act now in our communities to mindfully create zones of hospitality and nonviolence where cops, parents and youth gather to see one another face-to-face before another death occurs. We could prototype what it looks like for diverse churches to proactively build and strengthen relationships across the sectors of a town, neighborhood, or community that might prevent another violent death—instead of only being there to provide funeral services in the aftermath of the next one.

While I don’t really know what such a movement would look like, I do know that we are —thousands strong—people of all races, denominations, and ages who care deeply about racial injustice and are powerfully situated as agents of change in communities large and small across North America. I’ve witnessed hundreds of FTE gatherings where you have created temporary congregations around our common call as Christians to a common good for all.

Why has God given us Facebook, Twitter, and each other? How might we use our connections—virtual and real—to co-create the near future we would all like to inhabit?

When speaking about faith, vocation, and leadership, Stephen says: “There is a future that mourns if we don’t step into our own sense of meaning and purpose.”1

Might there also be a future that rejoices because we heeded Esther’s call and stepped forth boldly for such a time as this?

Some of you are actively shaping a hoped-for future now. What does this look like? What success are you seeing, particularly in the wake of moments like Baltimore, that can be instructive to others?

1Lewis, Stephen, “Called to Shape the Future,” in Being Called: Secular, Sacred, and Scientific Perspectives, eds. David Yaden, Theo McCall, and J. Harold Ellens (Westport, CT: Praeger, Forthcoming, 2015), Chapter 19.

Photo by Christopher Crews

Tags...: Diverse Solutions, Thinking Out Loud, Shaping the Future

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