By John Mark Boes
In this line of work, I am often asked about Jesus. What does Jesus have to say about this? How do the words and actions of Jesus impact us today? Why can’t we just talk about Jesus? These are just a few of the questions I get.
Why can’t we just talk about Jesus? I love this question. In many ways, it illustrates just how much our churches and church members care about Jesus, their church and their faith. That is inspiring. But there is more to this question. When it is asked in conjunction with discussions of advocacy, it shows that there is some preoccupation or hesitance. I want nothing more than to talk about Jesus. That is why I do what I do.
I should pause at this point. We find ourselves in Advent, the time of waiting, the time of hoping. We patiently wait for the coming Savior, the One who will fulfill the words of Mary as she said, “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 come to the aid of his child Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.” (Luke 1:52-55 NRSVUE). We wait on the One who sets all things right. We wait on the One who sets the oppressed free.
As I return to the question about talking about Jesus, I think of it in the light of Mary’s bold proclamation. Mary even knew that Jesus unsettles the order of things as she sings out that He will bring down the “powerful from their thrones” (Luke 1:52). What does it mean to talk about Jesus when his own mother sang about his future prophetic exploits?
This question has been on my mind, and I imagine will continue to be on my mind, throughout our advent journey this year. We follow the risen and living Jesus, the one who unsettles the order and calls us to discipleship. We follow the One who feeds the hungry, clothes the naked and sets the oppressed free. As we progress farther into Advent, what can we do to unsettle the order of things? How can we radically follow the call of discipleship?
We can advocate for the expansion of the Child Tax Credit (CTC). The previous expansion of the CTC reduced child poverty and food insecurity to levels that were lower than ever before in our country. Expanding the CTC will greatly reduce poverty in this country and certainly unsettles the order of things.
We can advocate for Dreamers, those who hold Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and those who hold Deferred Enforced Departure (DED). We should support the American Dream and Promise Act of 2021that would allow as many as 2.3 million Dreamers to stay in the United States. Also, it would allow almost 400,000 TPS and DED holders to remain in the United States. That would certainly show that we love our neighbor as ourselves.
In 2023, we can advocate for a Farm Bill Reauthorization that protects and expands the federal SNAP benefit and extends to our U.S. territories. Moreover, we can advocate for a Farm Bill Reauthorization that secures and protects minority farmers in this country. That would fill the hungry with good things.
I began this with the question that is most frequently asked about my work in advocacy: why can’t we just talk about Jesus? Well, it is time to do that. It is time for us to talk about Jesus and then it is time for us to take what we have discussed and put it into action. The time is now.