Radvent Day 9, Evening – Good News to the Poor

When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.” But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”
Luke 19:5-8 (NIV)

“No more room in that box, M’Dear.” 
“In the heart? Room in the heart, Vee?”
“You mean like no room in the inn?” 
“There was no room in the heart, Vee. And you?” 
The Salt Eaters, by Toni Cade Bambara

Magnificat, by Ophélia





The good news is that death is not the end. 

The insanity of our mostly-dumb dominant culture, the death rattles issued in the halls of congress, the gun battles and policing of neighbors, the propaganda in service of necrocapitalism’s bottom line? Not the end.

State violence killed our Jesus Christ, but he did not die.

He lives. He has already disrupted empire. The invitation to join him in the song of the living remains open.

The good news is I have choices.

The good news is I do not have to catch a head cold on a drafty*ss soapbox.

If I am here to speak on GOOD NEWS to the POOR, then humility is in order. Some recognition that

as right as I think I am

as awakened as I exercise my heart to be,

as truth-telling as my presence aims at,

God is God and I am not.

This is the best news! I am not in charge.

Remember when Jesus hollers at the authentically-curious tax collector Zacchaeus? Z’s perched in a tree to get a sense of who Jesus is, and Jesus spots him right away, telling him to come down because He needs to stay the night at Z’s place.  

Luke describes the crowd as “grumbling” that the so-called Messiah would seek hospitality from a sinner like Zacchaeus. The crowd in Jericho complains because tax collectors profited from the extra money they charged for their services. 

I have been that grumbler. Our public discourse and social media are made up of such complaining. There is a lot to object to, but placing attention only on where others are wrong occludes redemption. 

Audre Lorde told us that such mechanisms of shame are among the master’s tools, and those tools “will never dismantle the master’s house.” Afrofuturist adrienne maree brown reminds that “imagination is one of the spoils of colonialism,” and my faith is consistent with this; the Son of Mary is born in a manger because there is no room anywhere else, no extant imaginative space in the empire that the Trinity is poised to disrupt.  

Reader, I am attached to the cynicism, learned helplessness, impotent rage, and depression that have ordered the majority of my days. My attachment is born of familiarity, nothing else. I understand that what constitutes the majority of my days can continue to change. Be the good Lord willing, I can choose to give and receive glad tidings.

To give good news to the poor is inherently reciprocal, by virtue of the preposition “to” in our translation of the gospel. Meaning, I am not building the Kingdom of God alone. Imagining into a reality where climate catastrophe is mitigated, Black lives are not denigrated, and banally-evil monopolies no longer exploit workers requires quitting my grumbling and placing attention on the Good News, and on all of you. 

Tess Sanders spends her week at College Church; in her apartment, under the Arch by the river, in the streets of St. Louis on her single speed Schwinn bike, masked and unmasked singing, and more! You can send tidings of comfort and joy, longings, JOKES, inquiries, introductions, funny gifs, songs, prayer requests/fellowship, all or no good vibes to tess.sanders@slu.edu.

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