Magazine article Sojourners Magazine

Emerging Hope

Magazine article Sojourners Magazine

Emerging Hope

Article excerpt

I'VE ALWAYS LOOKED forward to Advent. It's a time each year of expectant hope-the hope brought by the coming of a child, born in an animal stall in Bethlehem, who would change everything. It is the time of year when I am reminded again of the choice we always have between cynicism and hope. That's ultimately a spiritual choice, and Advent is a formative season that nurtures the choice to hope, which can guide our decisions and actions.

This fall, Sojourners launched a new project called Emerging Voices, and its one of the most hopeful iniatlves I have been involved with in a long time. It aims to mentor, develop, and promote the most dynamic up-and-coming communicators-speakers, preachers, and teachers-who are called to lead and publicly articulate the biblical call to social justice.

The vision for this project is exciting and something to be celebrated, It also calls to mind a critical observation: Our world often wants saviors, not prophets; new messiahs, not leaders. We want heroes with superhuman strength who save the day, not mere mortals who speak the truths we typically don't want to hear. Even the modern-day giants of social justice-Dr. Martin Luther King In, Dorothy Day, and Mahatma Gandhi, for example-were at best prophets, but never saviors.

It's easy to slip into the mentality that one person, one voice, will rise up in a generation, and that she or he will change the world as we know it. Dr. King spoke of this temptation as the "drum major instinct." It is the basic desire of humans to lead the charge and, ultimately, reap the recognition-or, at the very least, to place our confidence in a single human being,

Two months before his assassination, King warned his listeners at his home church of Ebenezer Baptist. "When the church is true to its nature, it says 'Whosoever will, let him come'" King said. "And it [is] nut supposed to sahsfy Lhe perverted use of the drum major instinct, It's the one place where everyone should be the same, standing before a common master and savior."

However, King understood that even if he were able to overcome, or at least suppress, this instinct within himself, others would still place their dreams upon him. Envisioning his funeral, he said that if he were to be remembered as a drum major, then he would like to be remembered as a drum major for justice, for peace, and for righteousness.

The role of savior has already been filled, and the cross Jesus bore is the ultimate rejection of this human drum major instinct. That's where Christians must always start.

NEVERTHELESS, WE STILL need prophets, leaders, and voices who point us in the direction of this hope. …

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