What [Silent] Protest Will You Make? #staywokeadvent

Posted December 17, 2014 @ 8:59am | by Tripp

My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.

Luke 1:46-55

Perhaps you heard the news. Students staged a seven-day occupation at University of California, Berkeley to protest tuition hikes. The already inflated tuition rates at what used to be one of the best funded state college systems in the country will, once again, be raised. UCB is no longer a "great deal." It's an expensive investment on par with some of the most expensive private school educations in the country.

Perhaps you are saying, "Yes, we know, but have you seen the news in Ferguson? Who cares about their tuition?"

Of course. People held rallies here in Oakland to support Ferguson. And they rallied on campus and downtown in Berkeley. Even the local seminaries gathered together in downtown Berkeley.

Black lives matter.

What I have not seen, however, is anyone making the obvious connections about the increasing cost of such social goods as higher education with the increasing obfuscation of racism in our country. There is a correlation at work in this that I believe demands our attention. But our efforts are divided. Our attentions scattered.

It seems to be a season of protest. Advent is a protest time.

How do I know? Well, the soundtrack, of course. For me it all begins with Mary's song. Every Advent I have to listen to this song.

So, I muster up the courage to listen to her again. She is a prophet echoing other prophets. Luke remembers her song for us, some scholars argue. Others suggest that this is the beginning of the defense of Mary's place in the leadership of the early Christian community. Do you want to know what Mary thought about Jesus' ministry? Well, Luke would have you listen to this song.

I, of course, want to contemporize it in some way. I want to turn it into a protest song, a folk song. “Folk music...requires you to live it if you’re going to sing it.” But that would be an anachonism that might cause some undue harm to Mary's legacy.

If the stories are worth telling, Mary is not some disenchanted first century suburbanite. No, she's poor. She's disenfranchised in ways that I cannot begin to understand (though not in the typical ways that get bandied about). So, comparing her to Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell isn't what I'm after. It's such challenging music.

So, like I do with a lot of challenging music, I listen. I listen deeply. I listen to it again and again. And I just let it sit there. Or, more accurately, I sit there in my silence as the musician sounds in my presence. I listen to Mary sing.

My protest is to be in silence while Mary's song reverberates across the cosmos.

So, I sit this Advent season in silent protest.

No one needs my voice in this. We need to listen to Mary. I brought my banjo if she needs it. Otherwise, it too can stay in its case.

My protest this Advent is my silence.

I want people to hear Mary's song, not mine. I want people to hear Ferguson's song, not mine. I want people to hear Eric Garner's song, not mine. I want people to hear Emmet Till's song, not mine, Rosa Park's song, not mine, Nelson Mandella's song, not mine.

Your song, not mine.

I simply need to keep silent vigil while the world sings, while Mary sings.

It is Advent. An angelic choir approaches.


This blog is one of the #staywokeadvent series of blogs. Learn more here.

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