Systems: You Care Because It Matters
Dear Kaleid Ladies,
Yesterday was election day. We write this email before decisions are known, but no doubt some of us woke grateful; some of us woke saddened.*
If you feel either of these things, please recognize that they come from a sense of caring for the bigger picture—for the way things head in our local, state, and national landscape. And the fact that you care is a gift to your community.
It’s a deeply spiritual thing to recognize that systems have the power to bless or harm people and to want to participate in them in a way that activates blessing.
Our favorite author at Kaleid on the topic of power and systems is Diane Langberg, a psychologist who works with Christians who have experienced harm through systems gone awry. Her teaching helps us to see that systems are simply collections of people, standing together, organized for a purpose.
Systems were God’s idea. God created families, governments, church, etc. as agents of blessing for people. A quick reflection on the Old Testament reveals that God-made systems can bless or harm. Langberg tells us that they tend to do the most harm when they use their power to protect the system rather than to bless people. Think about the stories Joseph, or Eli’s sons, or Saul, or false prophets.
Systems are not good or bad in themselves, but they magnify the blessing and the harm that people can cause toward one another because they are aggregates of power.
Good question. This fall, as we ponder the opportunity to See our City through its soil, stories, and systems, we are asking how to become better noticers so that we can love where we live with more compassion, courage, and clarity.
One part of seeing our systems is beginning to care about the blessing or harm that comes through them, even when it seems that one vote is too small to change anything or one voice at the school board meeting is too quiet to be heard or one hard question at the church meeting is too scary to ask.
None of us like to feel like our emotional energy is wasted on things too big for us. It’s so tempting to throw up our hands in the face of the giant forces of systems.
But systems are made up of people, together, over time. Your part in systems matters, not because you are the next Rosa Parks, but because faithfulness to hold systems accountable to be agents of blessing is a very real way to follow Jesus. This call for accountability to bless is what Jesus was doing when he turned over temple tables. He actually didn’t change the temple system that exploited the poor, but he called out their distorted reality anyway. And it mattered.
So, thank you for caring. And for wanting to see more clearly so that you can participate well. Thanks, too, for trusting Jesus to show you how to spend your emotional energy nurturing blessing within the systems that feel big today…in your families, neighborhoods, schools, hospitals, the government, and the list goes on. We are grateful to be in this together.
By the way, some Kaleid ladies are headed to hear Bryan Stevenson, author of Just Mercy and founder of the Equal Justice Initiative tomorrow night at Trinity Presbyterian. Email Liz@thekaleidproject.com if you want to join us or meet us there. We have a few extra tickets, and the event is sold out.
To close, we invite you to spend a few moments with Ephesians 6:12-18 from The Message version. Invite the Holy Spirit to speak a word, phrase, or image to you that you can carry with you into the systems of which you are a part today.
And that about wraps it up. God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no weekend war that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels.
Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.
The Kaleid Team
*This statement speaks to our belief that God is not partisan and to our hope that Kaleid can be a space of struggle for the disruption that aligning our political values, Republican or Democrat, with our Christian faith can entail as things shift in the world. And to the reality that there are no easy answers, but that, at Kaleid, we lean into the questions anyway.
P.S. Sign up for the Advent Contemplative Circle, which will meet on Wednesday mornings 11/30 – 12/28 via zoom! We will spend time together with the practice of Visio Divina, where we prayerfully invite the Holy Spirit to speak to us through the Scriptures and through art as we anticipate the coming of Jesus, word made flesh, at Christmas. If you’ve never done our contemplative prayer before, we welcome you and promise it will be gentle! Feel free to reach out to email@example.com with questionsth any questions about it!