By Kristan Pitts
Advent is a season of paradox. It’s a season where we hold in tension the celebration of the birth of Christ and the anticipation of Christ’s second coming.
2020 has been an exercise of what it means to exist in tension. We have experienced a pandemic, increased visibility of structural injustice, polarizing political rhetoric, and many of our institutions being on the brink of collapse. The impacts of all that is happening have left the public consciousness in tension as well.
Some identified this year as one of sabbath that afforded them rest and reflection. Others found sadness, struggle, and less security as they lost loved ones, livelihoods, and a place to live. Then some existed in the tension of both the best and worst of what this year has brought with it.
In my own life, I find myself located in the last category. Existing in the space of the horror and hope this year has brought me. The horror of the exacerbation of structural injustices that directly and indirectly impact me and those I love. Despite wrestling with theodicy―reconciling why God would allow evil and suffering in the world―I have found hope.
I have found hope in the biblical narrative of the minor Prophet Habakkuk, who asked, “O Lord, how long shall I cry for your help, and you will not listen? Or cry to you ‘Violence!’ and you will not save?” (Habakkuk 1:2). I have also found hope in reflecting on the life and legacy of freedom fighters, both dead and alive, like Fannie Lou Hamer and Mary Hooks, whose work has and continues to inspire me to strive to be an agent of justice and compassion. And I find hope in the life and ministry of Jesus.
As we continue to lean into the season of Advent, I invite you to read and prayerfully lean into the tension of the season of Advent and the call of action in the following litany:
A Litany of Lament for Liberation
By Kristan Pitts
Inspired by the Prophet Habakkuk’s words, Fannie Lou Hamer, Mary Hooks, and other freedom fighters whose wisdom and actions both challenge and inspire me.
O God, who I am in both awe and disgust.
“I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.”
“WE, are sick and tired of being sick and tired.”
I am tired of injustice.
We, are tired of injustice and waiting for justice to be actualized,
while the ability for flourishing is “with the handful, for the handful, and by the handful.”
O God, how long shall we cry for help, and you not listen?
Jesus did not come to bring peace but a sword.
And may peace never come until justice is actualized.
Expose to everyone injustice that is both overt and covert,
Then make it so that inequity may never be hidden again,
But instead, called out from every rooftop, mountain top, valley, and gutter.
Invigorate us with truth, power, mercy, and love.
And the wisdom to know how to allow these tools to inform our actions.
In our struggle against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of darkness, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Remind us that “we have nothing to lose but our chains.”
Make it evident that “no one is free until everyone is free.”
“So, when I liberate myself, I liberate others.”
May my lamenting liberate me.
May our lamenting liberate us.
May our acknowledgment of our internalized oppression, complicity, and direct harm liberate us.
May our unlearning of white-supremacy and its harmful bi-products liberate us.
May our labor liberate us.
May I hold myself accountable.
May we hold each other accountable.
And may we be willing to be transformed in the doing of this work.
Kristan Pitts is a CBF Leadership Scholar and third-year Master of Divinity Candidate at Wake Forest School of Divinity. She also is one of 2020’s CBF 25 Young Leaders to Know. Kristan is originally from Greenville, S.C., where she is a member of First Baptist Church Greenville.