By: The Join the Movement Team
The passage we read from scripture for today comes from the very end of the letter to the Thessalonians. It is part of the author’s last words of encouragement and teaching to this young community of Jesus followers. As the letter writer winds up their thoughts, they vacillate between encouraging the community to stay vigilant in their expectant waiting for the return of Jesus and helping them imagine what a life rooted in these hopeful, kindom-coming dreams looks like, even when it feels like the world is ending. Delight in life (rejoice always), says the author; pay attention to what’s around you (pray without ceasing). And then this verse: “do not quench the spirit; do not despise the words of prophets…” For the letter writer, living the Jesus life as we await his return means opening to what is emerging and the prophetic voices that show us a new world is possible.
In their book, The Future is Disabled: Prophecies, Love Notes and Mourning Songs, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha argues that the unquenchable spirit and prophetic imagination of QTBIPOC disabled people is precisely what will help us navigate the apocalyptic times we live in. “As it turns out,” they say, “a lot of oppressed communities have a lot of practice dreaming in the middle of complete despair. Our disabled love and all our brilliant collective care and crip ingenuity…is love work that’s not going anywhere. We’re not going to stop dreaming” (46). Piepzna-Samarasinha, like the author of the letter to the Thessalonians, understands that living with expectant hope as things keep falling apart, requires the creative and visionary wisdom of those most impacted by the crumbling and most skilled at surviving it. They ask us to consider, “What would a world radically shaped by disabled knowledge, culture, love and connection be like? Have we ever imagined this, not just as a cautionary tale or scary story, but as a dream?” (22).
So this Advent, as we immerse ourselves in the sometimes hopeful, sometimes despairing preparing for Love-made-flesh, let us turn toward those who dream a future of freedom for all bodies rooted in experiences of surviving enslaving paradigms. And when our privilege and power tempt us to argue with, ignore, or discount their wisdom, may we hear the sacred text reminding us: do not quench the spirit; do not despise the words of prophets. This is how we dream and build the future while we wait.
Spirit who flows,
draw us into the river of your dreaming
as we await the promised future of flourishing for all bodies.
Teach us to pray without ceasing,
until our every exhale is rooted in the deep inhalation
of the prophetic words and visions that surround us. Amen.
Artwork: “In Dark Times We Grow Towards the Light” by Meredith Stern.
Used with permission CC BY-NC-ND
Find more at Justseeds Artists’ Cooperative
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