Today is Epiphany, the day that Christians, since ancient times, have celebrated the coming of the Light. Those of us who have met Christ, the Light, like John have been called to be witnesses testifying to the light. John came with a very specific message, and he went to a very specific place, and in a very interesting way delivered that message.
Jess and I believe God has given us a specific message and called us to a specific place to deliver it. We are in the final stages (hopefully) of obtaining a house in the northside neighborhood of Syracuse. This is one of the more ethnically diverse neighborhoods of Syracuse, with one in every six of our neighbors being foreign born. Yet it is quite homogenous when it comes to socioeconomic class; one in three live below the poverty line, and the per capita income is near $13,000 (half the per capita income of the suburban town I grew up in).
Most of us would agree that racial segregation is wrong. However, the socioeconomic segregation that we participate in today is still racial segregation. People of poorer minorities are abaondoned to impoverished neighborhoods with decaying infastructure and educational systems, while the rich (and white) majority retreats to the suburbs to build their safe neighborhoods with first rate schools.
Our churches mirror this segregation. It was nearly 50 years ago that Martin Luther King Jr. commented on how Sunday morning is the most segregated time in America, but still today less than 7% of churches are considered ethnically diverse (check out this article from this week's TIME magazine). There is a darkness, or as my favorite author Richard Foster puts it, evil principalities and powers that divide us.
My family wants to be a light in this darkness. A light to our suburban church, a church that before God brought 40 African refugees to our doorstep was completely white. But also a light to the northside neighborhood in Syracuse. So often desegregation looks like minorities joining the majority, or the have-nots joining hte haves, however, Jesus modeled something different for us:
As we seek to be living witnesses to this it may seem strange to some; that we would sell our nice home in a safe neighborhood to make this move. Many people from both communities may misunderstand us, and look at us as extreme. But then again, was it not the same for John, a fellow witness to the Light?