June 30, Ordinary 13C (Luke 9:51-62; 1 Kings 19:15-16, 19-21)
Maybe Jesus’ words aren’t about me, my family, or my sacrifices. Maybe they’re about him.
As a newly minted community organizer, I often find myself wondering what this role should cost me. Organizing is work that somehow manages to be demanding and forgiving at the same time. It is laden with losses and yet invigorating. It pulls out of me a fierceness and a drive to fight for a world where I won’t have to fight anymore—where I won’t have to push and claw for the justice and freedom due to every human.
In community organizing, the value of winning is manifold and concrete. The stakes are high. We could win more money in the regional budget for public transportation; we could win the construction of a new high school in a hurting neighborhood. But the costs are concrete, too: nights spent in planning meetings instead of singing “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” and the ABCs in an endless round with my two-year-old daughter; sitting out the annual family “homecoming” church service and cookout in order to lead a training.
I have been an ordained minister much longer than I’ve been an organizer. In that role, I have much more experience with the costs of the call: the missed family time, the bedside vigils, the miracles that don’t arrive, the constant wrestling to be better than I am.