I’m on sabbatical leave at the moment, so I’m trying to stay away from the church I serve in the heart of Florida’s capital city. However, I have been sneaking downtown in the past two weeks to spend some time with the Dream Defenders who are “occupying” the Governor’s office.
The Dream Defenders are a fascinating and inspiring group of young people. They have the zeal of the early Civil Rights marchers, the idealism of the Founding Fathers, and the technological expertise unique to their generation. Their goal is to pressure the Governor to call a special session of the Florida Legislature to reconsider the disastrous “Stand Your Ground” law.” They also want to spark a serious discussion of the zero-tolerance policies in Florida’s public schools which are channeling students – especially African-American males – into the criminal justice system.
As their occupation of the capitol has worn on, other issues have accrued to the Defenders’ agenda. Issues such as immigration reform, educational disparities, and the need for a living wage.
Although the Defenders have called for “Justice for Trayvon,” their dream is more expansive than getting rid of an ill-advised law. They dream of an America where young people of any race can walk home unmolested by armed men who judge them to be “thugs” without even knowing their names. An American where students are not handcuffed and hauled off school property for violations that used to earn detention or a lecture from the principal. An America where opportunity is not limited to few, the powerful, and the wealthy.
As I have listened to their testimonies, I have been struck by how closely their dream resembles the biblical vision of the Kingdom of God. Certainly, when I see the faces of this multi-racial community, I can’t help but recall the prophet’s promise of the day when “your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old shall dream dreams and your young shall see visions” (Joel 2:28).
The Book of Order of the Presbyterian Church (USA) lists as one of the great “ends” or goals of the church “the exhibition of the Kingdom of God to the world.”
Sometimes God doesn’t wait for the church to do its job. Let those who have eyes see.